As a new member of the Fraternity of Dad-hood, I’ve been acutely aware of how having a child can change one’s mindset about safety. Obviously, it’s no surprise that parents worry, but as adults, we’ve all honed our ability to apply basic operational risk management to our day to day lives: it’s not worth running that red light just because you’re late, make sure the tattoo shop opens new needles for each customer, don’t eat Tide Pods… but somehow the equation becomes a lot more muddled when you add a fifteen pound sack of bones and meat to it. Suddenly, the math just doesn’t add up easily any more.

Then you see a school shooting hit the news, and a whole new menagerie of concerns creep into your mind… sending your kid to school comes with a strange form of threat assessment. If I were the principal security asset responsible for keeping a Colonel safe, I certainly wouldn’t ever leave him alone in a public building with no security on site and no controlled entry procedures, but somehow, with the most precious and defenseless VIP I’ve ever been responsible for… that’s the plan starting only a year or two from now.

This is not, however, an OpEd about placing armed security at our schools or my feelings about gun control. To be honest, I think the solution to our current predicament involves more cooperation and honest media coverage, but in the days following such a tragedy, those sorts of reasonable conversations are a lost cause. I get it – I’m upset too. As we ran through the story of the shooting in the writers room for fellow contributor Danielle Bizier’s coverage, we also spouted off some of our own beliefs in the heat of the moment… and I caught myself saying to some people, “no, I totally agree, but right now I just want to be angry.”

We all are, and progress is a team sport, so for now, I’m only focused on what I can do to help keep my daughter safe.

I got a text late last night asking if I’d be willing to start training another student in self defense. I never saw myself as the kind of guy that’d teach that sort of stuff at all, but when I was approached by a young woman that had been the victim of a terrible crime, I couldn’t, in good conscience, walk away. I agreed to train her on the condition that she not pay me for the effort – in my mind, she could have been my daughter. When she texted me last night about another young woman that suffered the same terrible experience… I starting running the numbers in my head. This isn’t that big a community. What are the chances that my daughter finds herself facing a similar threat in her lifetime?

My anecdotal data set here in Georgia has me concerned.

While all Americans face the same laundry list of perceived threats to their children’s safety, some of us, many of whom either write for or read this very site, have spent a fair portion of our adult lives learning to address or mitigate these very kinds of threats under different circumstances. But that begs an important question: just how much of what do we teach our kids?

Now, I’m no CQB expert, and to be frank, the entirety of my martial arts training has been with two distinct ends in mind: either killing an opponent in combat, or winning a tournament with rules. I’ve devoted very little time in my training to the sort of escalation of force I’d recommend for your local school yard bully. When I train someone to defend themselves, it’s always from a significant threat – it’s appropriate to respond with deadly force against a rapist, but maybe not when it’s just a bigger kid that wants your lunch money.