Friday 23 February 2018

School runs, UK vs US

This is a 2003 photo of a 14 month child about to be towed four miles to kindergarten.

This is Corvallis, Oregon, a small US town where apart from a university there is ~fuck all. As a way of getting the child to school, the roads are quiet enough that it's much less stressful than in Bristol. Herel, you can never be sure someone has seen that trailer before they cut you up at a roundabout. Corvallis? It only has one roundabout and you can avoid it with ease.

You do not need to worry about the safety of your child when getting them to school by bike in a town like this.

Indeed, once they are a teenager you don't need to worry much about them on the back roads, unlike near Bristol, where outside town, "quiet" roads like Beggar's Bush Lane are viewed as opportunities of drivers to sprint. In Oregon, you can send your child ahead and not worry.

In contrast, in Bristol, you do worry about that school run.

You want to be in front of the child, to get the cars to stop at the roundabout. But also at the back, in case the threat comes from that direction. It's worse when they decide to cycle to school on their own, as worry about their journeys. It's a relief when they decide to start walking with their mates instead.

But journey to school and back is the only bit of their day you need to worry about.

In contrast, in the US, you worry about the safety of your child in the school. That town where nothing happened was 50 miles from Springfield, OR, where in 1998 one of the high school shootings now considered "small" took place. And its 110 miles north of Umpqua Community College where in 2015 someone killed ten staff and students.

In those sleepy middle-class US surburbs and towns, you cannot trust your children to be safe, because all it takes is one unstable person and a gun and their school ends up in the list of "US school killings"

Britain: we've had that tragedy in Dunblane: fix: no more handguns. Indeed, we have even allowed automatic rifles until an afternoon in Hungerford, thirty-one years ago.

Yet too many people in the US are unable to accept that such solutions "no guns" work, and all they are left with is trying to escalate it. Would you feel safer at school knowing all the teachers were armed? Not really.

Maybe, just maybe, this time, with the anger and voice of the children themselves, things may change.


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