Growing up and going to school when school shootings are becoming alarmingly commonplace is an inherently frightening thing. For many students, the lockdown drill is well known and the fear of every day being their last is all too familiar. Since so many students face this reality daily, why hasn’t more legislation passed? Why do people in positions of power seem to ignore students who do speak out? And arguably most importantly, what do these students want to change?
Sophomore Jess Cicero believes that schools can do more to keep students safe, and suggested, “focusing more on the mental health of students so that those who do feel they may hurt others can have a chance at finding an outlet before it’s too late.” Mental health does play a role in the staggering number of school shootings per year, but that doesn’t mean the problem is only mental health. Cicero said, “Gun laws are so loose that I know it’s perfectly possible for anyone to come in with a gun.”
Although some schools in different states have students that do feel safer, like senior Brynn Grofcsik at Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego, CA, who said, “I feel somewhat safe due to the school officers around campus, but am still not fully comfortable.” In California, their gun laws are among the toughest in the country. To legally purchase a firearm, you have to be 21, no past of domestic violence or mental illness within the past year and a prohibition on the sale of bump stocks. The school shooting epidemic is truly a national crisis, but some more progressive states have addressed their safety problems in a more effective way.
Gun violence in schools has effects on so many students, like sophomore Lucy Horn at Urbana High School in Urbana, MD, who said, “My cousin was in the Parkland shooting; she was fine but several of her friends were killed. At a school ten minutes away from my house, they found a kid that was planning a shooting. At another school twenty minutes away, they found a boy who was building a bomb and had several guns that he intended on using in his school. The fact that these incidents were so close to happening and would have killed people I know, myself, or my family, is insane… I realized that if it happened to my cousin, this could easily be me too.”
The frequency of school violence threats across the country is enough to make anyone afraid for their safety in schools since you never know when or where the next school shooting will occur. Because of the unpredictability and frequency of school violence threats, it’s no wonder that so many students don’t feel safe at school.
All across the country, it’s evident that students largely do not feel safe in schools, cementing school shootings as a national crisis. Cicero hopes that those who hold power soon understand the unnecessary peril of being a student today.
Cicero said, “The constant pressure of fearing for your own life, in what is supposed to be a safe place, on top of school work, a job, sports, a personal life, etc takes such a toll on our lives. We need actual help, action, legislation; their ‘thoughts and prayers’ aren’t going to do it.”