- The Dallas Independent School District has apologized for sending elementary students home with Winnie the Pooh-themed books on proper conduct in active shooter situations and for failing to provide guidance or warnings to parents beforehand.
- The book, “Stay Safe,” outlines the “run, hide, fight” safety plan in a way its publisher deems appropriate for young children.
- “Recently a booklet was sent home so parents could discuss with their children how to stay safe in such cases,” the school district said of the controversy. “Unfortunately, we have not provided any guidance or context for parents. We apologize for the confusion and thank the parents who have helped us become better partners.”
Cindy Campos’ 5-year-old son was so excited about the Winnie the Pooh book he received at school that he asked her to read it with him as soon as he got home. But her heart sank when she realized it was a tutorial on what to do when “danger is near”, advising children to lock doors, turn off lights and to hide quietly.
As they read the “Stay Safe” book that the school had sent home without an explanation or warning to the parents, she started crying, leaving her son confused.
“It’s hard because you’re reading them a bedtime story and now you basically have to explain in this cute way what the book is about, when it’s not actually cute,” Campos said.
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She said her first-grader, who attends the same elementary school as her son in kindergarten, also received a copy of the book last week. After posting about it in an online neighborhood group, she found other concerned parents whose children had also brought home the book.
The district’s decision to send the children home with the book made waves. California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted, “Winnie the Pooh is now teaching kids in Texas about active shooters because elected officials don’t have the guts to protect our kids and pass common sense laws on gun safety.”
It drew enough backlash to warrant an explanation from the Dallas Independent School District, which said in a statement Friday that it was working “hard every day to prevent school shootings” by dealing with threats in online and improving security measures. It also organizes active shooting exercises.
“Recently a booklet was sent home so parents can discuss with their children how to stay safe in such cases,” the district said. “Unfortunately, we have not provided any guidance or context for parents. We apologize for the confusion and thank the parents who have helped us become better partners.”
The district did not specify how many schools and levels in the district received the books.
Campos said the book “haunted” her and that it seemed particularly “deaf” to send her home with children without explanation at the time the state marked the anniversary of the mass shooting of the year at a primary school in Uvalde, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. It also comes as the Republican-controlled Texas legislature wraps up a session in which it rejected virtually all proposals to toughen gun laws but passed legislation banning school libraries from having books containing descriptions, illustrations or audio recordings depicting irrelevant sexual behavior. Course of Study.
Active fire drills have become common in American schools, although there is disagreement over whether they do more harm than good.
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Campos said that while she doesn’t disagree with the intent of the book, she wishes it had come with a parent warning so she could introduce it to her children at the right time and good manner. She said she had discussed the school shootings with her children and might have chosen to wait to read the book to them until there was another attack.
“I would have done it in my spare time,” said Campos, who first spoke to the Oak Cliff Advocate.
The cover of the book says: “If there is danger, let Winnie the Pooh and his crew show you what to do.” Inside it includes passages such as “If danger is near, be not afraid. Hide like Pooh does until the police appear. The doors must be locked and the passage blocked. Turn off the light to stay out of sight.”
The book was published by Praetorian Consulting, a Houston-based company that offers safety, security and crisis management training and services. The company, which did not respond to messages seeking comment, says on its website that it uses age-appropriate materials to teach the concepts of “run, hide, fight” – the approach that authorities say civilians should adopt in active fire situations.
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The company also says on its website that its K-6 program features Winnie the Pooh characters, which are now in the public domain and even featured in a recent horror movie.