Critics Say Winnie-the-Pooh Book Normalizes Shootings

Book featuring Winnie the Pooh puts onus on the kids, according to Dallas-area teacher
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2023 11:00 AM CDT
Critics Say Winnie-the-Pooh Book Normalizes Shootings
Winnie the Pooh dolls are displayed at a Disney retail shop in Shanghai, China, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018.   (AP Photo/Chen Cici)

Texas has led the country in banning books from school libraries. For its part, the Dallas Independent School District has said it may remove library materials that are "pervasively vulgar." Amid that context, parents of district students are wondering why a book that they argue normalizes school shootings is now being handed out to their kids "with no warning, no instruction," per Advocate Magazine. Stay Safe: Run Hide Fight, which teaches children how to respond in the event of an active shooter, was distributed to pre-kindergarten and elementary students in the Dallas-area district on Monday—two days before the first anniversary of the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, which left 19 children and two teachers dead.

The book features depictions of Winnie the Pooh and his Hundred Acre Wood friends, though it's "not an official production," the Guardian reports, noting Pooh's image entered the public domain at the start of 2022, the same year the book was published. The text explains the book "was created in collaboration with active police officers and classroom teachers" to teach children FBI-approved strategies for remaining safe in case of a "dangerous school intrusion," all in an "age-appropriate format," per Advocate Mag. Showing Rabbit sprinting, Pooh burying his head in a pot of honey, and Kanga and Roo sporting boxing gloves, the book encourages children to run from danger, hide without making a sound, and fight together "with all our might" if escape isn't possible.

It's "valid, gentle crisis-response instruction and is not anything that would outright scare children," per Advocate. But some parents and teachers fear it's helping to normalize school shootings. It's "putting it on the kids," a teacher tells the Guardian, adding the book left her "so angry, so disappointed" because "people think it's a better idea" than taking "any actions to stop [school] shootings." Toronto Star columnist Vinay Menon had the same reaction to the book "tucked into backpacks like granola bars" as "elected officials stick their heads in jars of honey." He predicts a sequel will find "Rabbit reading a National Rifle Association brochure as Christopher Robin removes a concealed Glock from his blue shorts to engage the masked assailant in a shootout near the snack mats." And "next, maybe Bugs Bunny can solve the opioid crisis." (More Winnie the Pooh stories.)

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