When Will Schools Reign Safe for Students?

Last Wednesday, February 14th, yet another school shooting in 2018 took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen students were killed and many more injured as a result of an AR-15 assault rifle carried and shot by Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Douglas High. This tragedy has been included in the top ten school massacres in modern United States history, three of which have taken place in the last five months. As Americans, we have become desensitized to the frequency and violent nature of these massacres, as they have seemingly become a typical part of living in the United States. Let that sink in for a moment. 

Last year, I went downtown to a local café that I sometimes go to with friends to sit and chat or finish schoolwork. We were sitting by the windows when there was a short, quick series of popping noises and suddenly people came running down the street past the café window, some yelling, some coming into the shop for safety. There had been a gunman outside who shot and killed a local man, then quickly fled the scene. What I remember most about that afternoon is how everyone in the area reacted. Although it was clearly a targeted killing, people still feared for their lives and fled the scene. Maybe if we didn't live in a society filled with fear of public shootings and home-grown terrorism, the reaction would've been different. Maybe people would've rushed out into the street to help the man who lost his life that day. But because of the fear we all carry about events such as the February 14th shooting, our first instinct nowadays is to run and hide. Although my experience pales in comparison to the trauma and loss that Parkland has experienced last week, and many other schools in 2018 so far, it really opened my eyes to the fear of guns and the hands that they end up in. 

Some say this is an issue of gun laws, some say it's an issue of mental health, some say it's the way we are raising our boys. But the truth is, no matter the cause of these tragedies, there can be policies put into place that will help avoid situations we are increasingly finding ourselves in. These much-needed policies don't currently exist, and look what is happening in American schools. Isn't this an indication that change is needed? Any way to make students feel safer in our place of education is the most important task at hand, and maybe stricter gun laws can help. As someone who comes from a family of hunters and gun-owners, I fully support having access to weapons for sport and hunting. However, these are not the weapons that people are bringing into schools and killing innocent lives with. It's the dangerous assault weapons that are getting into the wrong hands, and we need to ask ourselves how and why. Access to weapons made for killing people should not be so easy and legal to obtain, as we have seen in the case of Nikolas Cruz. There needs to be a way to make students feel safer and not feel that everyday is a threat to their lives. 

Thoughts and prayers aren't going to cut it, we need change. 

My heart goes out to all those affected by last week's shooting, and I hope that within your grief, you are eventually able to find peace. 

Grief Recovery Helpline: 800-445-4808

National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Info Line: 802-296-6300

American Trauma Society: 800-556-7890

[Photos Courtesy to the New York Times]

[The views of the author do not reflect the views of the chapter as a whole]