Only moments ago, I dropped my children off at school. I watched as their bodies disappeared into the doorway of the building directly across the street; the one I can see from our backyard—a place so close by, it almost feels as though they’re still home with me. I took a deep breath as I always do, hoping that today would be another boring day. A day filled with math, language arts and recess. Perhaps a day of sibling bickering. Or a day of homework protesting. If my children return home in one piece, it will be a good day. That is what parents hope for in 2022.

But as I opened Facebook and began scrolling as I often do subconsciously, an article from HuffPost caught my eye: “My Child Brought Home This Horrifying Pamphlet From School. I’m Furious — And You Should Be Too.” At first, I thought it was a simple introduction to sex education. I assumed it was merely a form related to this uncomfortable topic that most parents put off for as long as they can. But I was wrong.

The author of the article is a mother, like me. Her daughter had come home from school with a form to complete, something not out of the ordinary. But when she looked closely at this paper, she felt sick as she realized what she was supposed to do. I felt sick, too.

School shootings continue to destroy families, leaving fear and sorrow within the communities they touch. In June, Congress passed bipartisan gun control legislation, the first significant gun control action in nearly 30 years. This law enhances background checks for anyone under the age of 21 seeking to buy a gun. It provides additional federal funds for mental health programs and security in schools as well as millions of dollars for states to implement “red flag” laws, enabling officials to confiscate guns from those deemed by a court to be too dangerous to own them. This is a big step in the right direction.

But amid this progress, some states are asking parents to label an image of their child’s body with any type of distinguishing features. This would be used to identify bodies should they be too dismantled to name, otherwise. These forms, along with DNA and fingerprint identification kits, are being suggested by some government officials as a plan for dealing with school shootings after they occur. As a mother, this plan feels like a step backwards.

Our world has changed so much in such a short amount of time—and we’re allowing it to happen.

If our answer to school shootings, a disaster that rose to its highest number in two decades this past June, is a system to identify bodies, we are completely ignoring the problem. We are sweeping our children to the side, showing them their lives are worthless. We’re focusing too much energy on dealing with deaths once they occur and not enough on preventing them in the first place.

I am a mother. My children are my world. From the moment I wake in the morning until the second my eyes close at night, I am thinking of them. I am worrying about them. I am loving them. I am praying for their safety. They are my whole world. If you’re telling me death is a possible side effect of attending school, and body identification is the solution, I will never accept that. No parent should.

Over a decade ago, my husband and I made the choice to have children. The world around us felt safe and our community felt strong. Imagining their lives ahead, I saw freedom, optimism, and so much possibility. I didn’t see children huddled in the corner of classrooms crying from fear. I didn’t see forms to provide birth marks or test kits to provide DNA. Our world has changed so much in such a short amount of time—and we’re allowing it to happen.

Children are the leaders of our future. They are the ones we should be protecting first. 

No parent should receive this form or an identification kit from their child’s school. It is not an answer. It is a defeat. Whatever your political affiliation, remember our children when you vote. They need us now before it’s too late.