The Dallas Independent School District released a statement explaining why the students received the controversial book.
Cindy Campos’ five-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 together, Campos started crying, leaving his son confused. His school in the United States had sent the text home with the students without explanation or warning to parents.
“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.
She said her first-grader, who attends the same elementary school in Dallas, Texas, as her pre-kindergarten son, 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 Dallas Independent School District’s decision to send the children home with the book has 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 gun safety laws.”
It drew enough backlash to warrant an explanation from the district, which said in a statement Friday that it was working “hard every day to prevent school shootings” by addressing online threats 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 didn’t provide parents with any guidance or context. We apologize for the confusion and thank the parents who helped us become better partners.
The statement did not specify how many schools and classes in the district received the books.
Campos said the book was ‘haunting’ and it seemed particularly ‘deaf’ to send it home when the state was marking the anniversary from last year mass shooting in Uvaldewhen a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school.
It also comes as the Republican-controlled Texas legislature wraps up a session in which it rejected virtually every proposal to tighten gun laws. It passed a law prohibiting school libraries from have books that contain descriptions, illustrations or audio recordings depicting sexual behavior unrelated to the required school curriculum.
Active fire drills have become common in American schools, although there is disagreement over whether they do more harm than good.
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 the right way. She said she discussed school shootings with her children and that she 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 team show you what to do.” Inside it includes passages such as “If danger is near, do not be afraid. Hide like Pooh does until the police show up. 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 from The Associated Press seeking comment, says on its website that it uses age-appropriate materials to teach the concepts of “run, hide, fight.” – the approach authorities say civilians should take as active shooter situations.
The company also says on its website that its K-6 (5-12) program features Winnie the Pooh characters, which are now in the public domain and even featured in a recent horror movie.