WHEN US mother, Stacey Wehrman Feeley found her toddler balancing on a toilet seat, she thought it was a cute act that needed to be photographed, until she realized that what her daughter was doing. Her daughter was preparing for the worst. And the photo was disturbing.
Stacey’s daughter, Chandler, was balancing on the toilet seat to practice hiding in a toilet stall as a precaution if a shooter ever entered her preschool.
Stacey thought how ludicrious it was that her toddler had to learn how to protect herself at her preschool, which is a safe place, all because of the gun laws in her country.
“I took this picture because initially I thought it was funny. I was going to send it to my husband to show what our mischievous little three-year-old was up to. However, the moment she told me what she was doing I broke down. She was practising for a lockdown drill at her preschool and what you should do if you are stuck in a bathroom. At that moment all innocence of what I thought my three-year-old possessed was gone.
“Politicians — take a look. This is your child, your children, your grandchildren, your great grand children and future generations to come. They will live their lives and grow up in this world based on your decisions. They are barely 3 and they will hide in bathroom stalls standing on top of toilet seats. I do not know what will be harder for them? Trying to remain quiet for an extended amount of time or trying to keep their balance without letting a foot slip below the stall door?”
The mum writes on, dissecting the gun laws in American and questioning why guns are available to anyone, as this is what has caused mass shootings to occur on a regular basis in the US.
She pleads for a call to action, “I am not pretending to have all the answers or even a shred of them, but unless you want your children standing on top of a toilet, we need to do something!”
The practice move to teach children how to hide in a toilet stall is based on the heroic efforts of Kaitlin Roig-Debellis, a first grade teacher who hid 15 students in a classroom toilet in December 2012. A 20-year-old lone gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and started shooting random kids from classroom to classroom.
Twenty students, who were aged five and six years old were killed in the massacre shooting, as well as six teachers before the gunman killed his own mother and then shot himself.
Kaitlin describes the moment she decided to do what she could to save the lives of the children in her classroom in her book, Choosing Hope.
“Where can we hide? There’s only one place. The bathroom — a tiny first grade sized lavatory with only a toilet and a toilet paper dispenser inside. There is so little space that the sink is on the outside. I have never even been inside of the bathroom before. An adult wouldn’t fit comfortably. How in God’s name will I get sixteen of us in there? It is our only chance. The impossible will have to become possible.
“We all push into the bathroom and when there isn’t a millimetre of space left, I begin lifting students and piling them inside. I place one student, then two, then three on top of the toilet and hoist up my littlest girl and sit her on the toilet paper dispenser. We are all crushed together with not even enough room left to take a deep breath. I reach out to pull the door closed but the door isn’t there. Oh my God. In my rush to save us, I didn’t even notice the door opens into the bathroom. We are blocking it with our bodies. If I panic, they’ll all panic, and we’ll all be dead.”
Kaitlin was able to reach outside for a storage cabinet on wheels to conceal the bathroom before getting the door to close.
The children were shaking and petrified, with one child flushing the toilet twice because he was shaking so much.
The account is so heartbreaking to read. The children survive, but the effects of the day are immeasurable on the lives who lived through the fear of the shooting.