SIX-year-olds know little about balance. When they run and play, they tend to do so with reckless abandon. They get red-faced and sweaty and don't worry about saving energy for later. They do not worry about whether tomorrow will come.
It's a special thing to be 6 years old. And it's horrible that 20 families in Newtown, Conn., are without the energy and innocence that 6- and 7-year-olds carry with them.
It almost feels too soon to talk about policy when the pain is still so fresh. But since that time is here, we'd be wise to remember that finding balance is perhaps the greatest task at hand as policymakers and parents talk about school security.
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, and legislative leaders announced last week the formation of a school security task force. Lamb, who will head the commission, stressed the group will be composed of subject-area experts related to law enforcement, mental health and education. There's no spot on the panel for legislators.
We'll take the task force's make-up as a sign that Lamb and legislative leaders are serious about the nonpartisan nature of the group and about developing sound policy for schools and lawmakers to consider. Tragedy has been the predecessor to necessary and sometimes long-overdue public policy. Unfortunately, it also has the tendency to be the impetus of colossally bad ideas.
Every policymaker from California to Oklahoma to Florida has thoughts on how to prevent mass shootings in schools. With just a little over a month to go before the start of Oklahoma's legislative session, we're bound to hear a lot of those ideas – the good, the bad and the very, very ugly.
As we noted last week, no idea should be off the table, including the proposal to allow educators with proper training to carry a gun. That suggestion has drawn both sharp criticism and support. All ideas deserve thoughtful and respectful consideration.
The task force members will bring to the table a variety of perspectives. We ask them — and the lawmakers who will ultimately decide whether to make statewide policy changes — not to forget the perspective of a 6-year-old. School is a place where children learn and then practice balance. They learn that there's a time and place for reckless abandon and a time to focus on schoolwork or other pursuits.
For many children, school is the safest place they know. It needs to remain so but preferably not in a manner that leaves them fearful and with an ever-present reminder that the bad guys might be waiting.
Finding that balance won't be easy. No measure is foolproof. And for all their energy and innocence, many 6-year-olds are also mighty perceptive and sensitive. By all means, let's keep them safe. And in doing so, we must remember not to shatter their childlike sense of safety.