The Instagram post that started it all.

Warning, this is not my usual happy shiny Instagram post.
I wasn’t going to post this photo, mostly because it didn’t seem like it was ‘on-brand.’ It’s not about laughing people looking happy or doing something they love. It’s not of a beautifully curated space, with perfectly placed pillows and accessories.

It’s of my daughter. My 7-year-old daughter. It’s sad and it’s uncomfortable and it’s real. This is the look she had on her face when I asked her how her day was. What followed was a tale about how proud she was for being able to go to school and not be too afraid to leave for the first time in almost a month and a half. Not to be too paralyzed with fear that all she could do was run. This was the face of my beautifully sensitive kid who spent the better part of 7 months of this school year being subjected to death threats, harassment, tales of suicide. Insults, promises, and plans that would give any grown adult nightmares.

Why? Partially because we just didn’t know. Partially because she is an empath to her core and was trying to help this other student. Partially because our education system is so broken. But mostly, it’s because we have to do better for our kids. The child who started this is getting help but is still in the class. But what about everyone else that was affected? what about the other children who have heard these tales and experienced these threats so many times that now, to hear talk of throats being slit and descriptions of their silent murders in the night, doesn’t even make them flinch. What about those kids?

Violence is not okay. Threats are not a joke. Our schools should feel safe. Our children should be free from traumatic anxiety.

WHEN IT COMES TO MENTAL HEALTH, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.