The Dallas Independent School District issued a statement explaining why students received the controversial book.
Cindy Campos’ five-year-old son was so excited about the Winnie the Pooh book he got 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 quietly hide.
When they read “Stay Safe” together, Campos cried, confusing her son. His school in the US sent the text messages to students without explanation or warning to parents.
“It’s hard because you’re reading them a bedtime story, and basically now you have to explain what the book is about in this cute way, when it’s not exactly cute,” Campos said.
She said her first graders, who attend the same elementary school in Dallas, Texas, as her kindergarten-age son, also received copies of the book last week. After posting about it in an online community group, she found other concerned parents whose children also took home the book.
The Dallas Independent School District’s decision to let kids take the book home has caused a stir. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted: “Winnie the Pooh is now teaching Texas kids about active shooters because elected officials don’t have the guts to keep our kids safe and pass common sense Gun Safety Act.”
It sparked enough reactions to warrant an explanation from the school district, which said in a statement Friday that it “works every day to prevent school shootings” by addressing online threats and improving safety measures. It also conducts active shooter training.
“Recently, a pamphlet was sent home so parents can discuss with their children how to stay safe in this situation,” the district said. “Unfortunately, we did not provide parents with any guidance or context. We apologize for the confusion caused and thank the parents who reached out to help us become better partners.”
The statement did not say how many schools and grades in the district received the books.
Campos said the book was “haunting” and seemed particularly “deaf” to sending it home as the state commemorated the anniversary of last year’s Uvaldi mass shooting, in which a gunman killed a child at an elementary school. Killed 19 children and two school teachers.
Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Legislature in Texas wrapped up a session that rejected nearly all proposals to tighten gun laws. It did pass legislation prohibiting school libraries from possessing books that contain descriptions, illustrations, or audio of sexual acts not relevant to school curriculum requirements.
Active shooter drills are already common in American schools, though there is disagreement about whether they do more harm than good.
Campos said that while she has nothing against the intent of the book, she hopes it serves as a warning to parents so she can introduce it to her children in the right way at the right time. She said she has discussed the school shooting with her children and that she may choose to wait to read the book to them until another attack occurs.
“I’ll do it on my own time,” said Campos, who first spoke with the Oak Bluff Advocate.
The cover of the book reads: “If there is danger, let Winnie the Pooh and his crew show you what to do.” Inside, it includes lines such as “If danger approaches, do not be afraid. Hide like Pooh until Police appear. Doors should be locked and access blocked. Lights turned off so no one can see.”
The book is published by Praetorian Consulting, a Houston-based company that provides safety, security and crisis management training and services.
The company, which did not respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment, said on its website that it uses age-appropriate material to teach the concept of “run, hide, fight” — the way authorities say civilians should approach active shooters Condition.
The company also says on its website that its K-6 (kids ages 5 to 12) curriculum features Winnie the Pooh characters that are now in the public domain and even appeared in a recent horror movie.