Run Away!

Periodically, there are emergency drills at the deaf school kindergarten. During earthquake drills, the children crawl under tables. During fire drills, they press handkerchiefs or towels to their faces and leave the building. During fushinsha drills, they are instructed to run away.

Fushinsha means “strange person,” and refers to the kind of pervert who might come onto an elementary school playground with a knife and start stabbing children. Which is what happened in Osaka a few years ago and which is why the children have these drills.

The first time they did it, someone dressed up as a fushinsha by wearing dark glasses and a hood or a scarf or something. The kids were outside playing and they were supposed to run to their homeroom teacher when the stranger came. Many children were frightened by this. Understandable, right? I thought that it might have been better if they worked to help the children feel secure at school and had parents or teachers patrolling the school grounds. We mothers have to wear name tags at school so everyone knows we belong there, and the gates are always closed, though they can be easily opened. The principal recently supplied every kid with a buzzer that can be pressed in an emergency. It gives off a high keening sound meant to surprise a would-be attacker.

A few days ago, another fushinsha drill was held at the kindergarten. This time, there was a skit in which familiar teachers pretended to be the bad guy. So it was kind of funny for the kids, but they got it: Don’t take candy from strangers! Don’t go off with some stranger just because he/she offered you a toy! The kids participated in the skit, too. Lilia was worried about the whole thing days in advance, but she was called to the front of the room. Boy did she scoot to me quickly when the “bad person” tried to give her candy. After that, the teachers reviewed everything again, writing key points on the white board. Then all the kids practiced yelling. It was a good drill.

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