In the middle of Thursday’s White House press briefing, where grown-up reporters were asking questions about NAFTA and North Korea, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed toward the rear of the briefing room and called on “the young colleague in the back.”
“Thanks for the compliment,” quipped one of his adult colleagues, sparking a chorus of laughter.
“Hopefully,” Sanders said, “these aren’t as tough as Bring Your Kids to Work Day questions.”
Benje Choucroun, a correspondent for Time for Kids magazine, piped up in the back. The 13-year-old hails from Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera, Calif., according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In a sober sign of the times, Benje asked about the gruesome reality that he and his classmates face: the fear of being shot in school.
“At my school, we recently had a lockdown drill. One thing that affects my and other students’ mental health is the worry about the fact that we or our friends could get shot at school,” Benje said. “Specifically, can you tell me what the administration has done and will do to prevent these senseless tragedies?”
“I think that as a kid, and certainly as a parent, there is nothing that could be more terrifying for a kid to go to school and not feel safe. So I’m sorry that you feel that way,” said Sanders, her voice catching. “This administration takes it seriously and the School Safety Commission that the president convened is meeting this week . . . to discuss the best ways forward and how we can do every single thing within our power to protect kids in our schools and to make them feel safe and make their parents feel good about dropping them off.”
President Trump has repeatedly said he believes the solution is to arm teachers — a move that teacher groups have overwhelmingly rejected — and to “harden” schools with additional security.
Trump is set to visit the families of the students and teachers who were slain this month at Santa Fe High in Texas. The shooting in the Houston suburb was the latest in a string of school violence that has become devastatingly familiar.
In the wake of the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead, Trump appointed a Federal Commission on School Safety to study ways to reduce school violence. The commission, which is charged with examining gun restrictions, changes to education policy and the effect of violent video games, is headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
The group is scheduled to visit a Maryland school Thursday, where they will hear from local school officials.