Holly Shannon, M.A.T., Elementary School Teacher

Kyron's Disappearance From A Teacher's Point of View

It started for me as a facebook post…my friend’s husband works with Kaine Horman, the father of Kyron Horman, the missing 2nd grader from Portland, OR.  I saw the post in the middle of my camping trip the day after Kyron went missing from his school.  My thoughts started racing. How could he disappear from an elementary school? Why didn’t the school call to report his absence? Am I cautious enough with my class of 20 first graders? How does his teacher feel?


Upon returning to school after the news hit the media that first weekend, I had mixed feelings as to what to say to my class. Would it scare them if I talked about the missing child? Would I be a better teacher if I helped them understand the flood of media surrounding Kyron’s disappearance?


After much self-conflict, I opted to address the sad and confusing news story head-on. Many of the children in my class had heard bits and pieces of the story, or had walked through a room in their house when the story was on TV. Without scaring them, I told the class that there was a second grader nearby who is missing.  I let them know that the police and community are trying really hard to find him. They had a lot of questions, but I kept my answers brief and factual.  I’ve found that children feel the most secure when they know the answers to the big and scary news stories they hear. 


In the 2 school weeks that remained after Kyron went missing, and before summer vacation started, I taught a series of lessons on personal safety, using versions of Little Red Riding Hood. Every day we discussed and role-played various safety scenarios.


On the last day of school, I was filled with mixed emotions.  All over Portland, the fact that school was letting out for the summer, yet Kyron was still missing, weighed on everyone.  On the other hand, I knew that I’d done the most I could to provide my first grade class with as much stranger safety awareness as 6 and 7 year olds can handle. 


We now find ourselves in the middle of summer vacation, and still no Kyron.  Daily we’re reminded of him with news articles, billboards and posters. I can only imagine the children from my class seeing these daily images around town too. I hope that they’re able to be kids, have fun, and that seeing Kyron’s image doesn’t make them scared, but instead reminds them of the safety lessons from first grade. 


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