When a Delaware mom got word that her children's school was involved in a genuine lockdown after "some whack job called in a bomb threat," she was understandably relieved to discover that the police confirmed "everything was fine."
It wasn't until her kids – 10-year-old son Sean and 7-year-old daughter Vanessa – were safely home that she realized everything wasn't quite so simple.
"My guys seemed fine when they got home and they talked about it with me, and told me their versions of what happened and then went right into their homework and normal after-school stuff, and all seemed fine," Shelley Harrison Reed wrote on Facebook. "It wasn't until later when Vanessa was changing out of her school uniform that I saw this on her arm."
She shared a photo of her elementary-school-aged daughter's forearm, in which the words "Love Mom and Dad" were handwritten with a purple marker.
Shelley asked her daughter why she wrote that, and Vanessa's response was haunting.
"She said, 'In case the bad guy got to us and I got killed, you and Daddy would know that I love you,' and she started to cry," she continued. "As did I as I watched a little piece of her innocence get stolen away."
The realization that her child came to such a conclusion was "absolutely gut-wrenching" for the mom, and even after several hours, she couldn't shake a feeling that was "killing me inside."
The feeling? A combination of sadness, fear, and disgust. "Disgust for this new 'normal' our kids have to deal with on any given day," she wrote. "It's a very scary and disturbing society we now live in, and it's heartbreaking."