Saturday, September 15, 2007
Be Ready. Be Very Ready.
Let me preface this post by saying that I'm perfectly willing to accept the possibility that I'm way off base on this. But it strikes me that the Dept. of Homeland Security's disaster preparedness camp for ten year-olds represents all the worst aspects of our country's reaction to the traumas of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina:
...The Be Ready Camp curriculum includes an introduction to survival and first aid, disaster psychology and terrorism awareness, as well as instruction on creating a family emergency plan and an emergency supply kit.
Be Ready Camp culminates in a disaster exercise, with kids stepping into the shoes of public safety professionals, such as police officers, firefighters, dive teams, doctors, soldiers and first responder volunteers.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't think kids shouldn't be prepared to respond to individual emergency situations, both emotionally and also (to whatever degree they're capable of) technically. It just seems inappropriate to not only inculcate them with a mass disaster mentality at such a young age, but also with a sense of responsibility to respond to one.
After all, the emergency response failures to both 9/11 and Katrina weren't due to kids not knowing how to respond. They were due to grown ups not knowing how to respond. And if a disaster ever results in there being no adults available to respond, then I don't think this kind of camp is going to make much of a difference for the kids that are left.
There's a certain comic aspect to this, sort of like the "Duck & Cover" drills of the 1950's. But those drills, as silly as they were, managed to psychologically mark a generation with a foreboding of impending doom. Which isn't such a laughing matter.
Also, I'm a bit curious as to what the "Terrorism Awareness" component of the curriculum consists of. Are the little tikes learning how to racially profile potential terrorists? Or spy on their parents? Just how ready is ready, anyway?