We’re now halfway through 2018, and there have been 23 school shootings in America where someone was injured or killed. Do the math and that averages out to a little more than one school shooting a week.
This year’s high profile cases (as of late) have included Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where a 19-year-old man gunned down students and staff with an automatic rifle, slaughtering 17 students and adults; as well as Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas where a student open fired on an art class, claiming ten lives and marking itself as America’s 180th school shooting.
The catastrophic school shooting epidemic is quite literally sweeping the nation, with this generation of students earning the title of, “The Mass Shooting Generation”.
Since Dec. 14, 2012, after a similar massacre happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed; there have been more than 180 shootings on school campuses that have resulted in either an injury or death.
Let that sink in. More than 180 school shootings. Which still averages out to nearly one a week over the past six school years.
How is that even possible?
Well, in order to gain a better understanding and raise awareness on the issue at large, Everytown for Gun Safety began tracking gunfire incidents throughout schools and colleges nationwide back in January 2013. When a firearm discharges on school grounds in America, Everytown puts it on record. Incidents when guns were brought to a school by a student or staff member, but are not discharged, are not included.
So yes, it is possible. But the real question is, how are we letting this even happen?
It goes without saying that when these school shootings do occur, whether they’re headline news or not, that it is absolutely unfathomable and devastating for the school and community involved at the time. Lives of children are lost again and again, and the entire world is left shaking their heads with everyone left thinking, “Why isn’t anyone with authority doing something to fix this?”
The issue of gun violence is constantly being discussed now more than ever but still, no legitimate action is taken to diminish the high potential harm of gun violence.
But really, it’s not about the guns. It’s not about security. It’s not about the perpetrator’s mental health. It’s not about any of that.
It’s about the students.
Roughly three million American children are exposed to gun violence per year. Statistics show again and again that children who are exposed to this traumatic activity often lead them to suffer from a mental disorder, abuse drugs, drop out of school, or engage in their own criminal activity.
What most people seem to overlook during these conversations, is how gun violence is not only taking lives of innocent students, but how every single student who attends that school will forever be changed. More often than not, changed for the worse.
Even schools that have not been (yet) effected by a shooting are now regularly having “shooter drills” conducted in their schools which not only distracts them from learning entirely, but it leaves them with the impression that their school is a some sort of war zone.
Children are being shaken to their core and forced to grow up as fast a trigger can be pulled, leading them to become furious, desolated and confused for what could possibly be the rest of their lives.
These children are the future. Period. As cliche as the old saying is, there are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. If children are affected in any sort of way, positive or negative, the entire nation is effected.
Hate breeds hate. By not doing anything about this issue effecting children when they are young, only teaches them to lead in the way they have learned. What they are learning and being instilled with is hate, greed and corruption and the cycle will only continue for generations to come.
We all agree, enough is enough. But when will it all actually end? Do these kids need to continue to “march for their lives”? Watch their friends die in front of them on what they thought would be another normal day at school? Or will we make an actual change to save our children and future?
If there is any American student out there reading this right now, there is a way you can make difference in a profound way. Something that might save you from experiencing something similar as your peers across the nation have.
Be kind to your classmate sitting next to you. Make new friends. Invite students eating alone at lunch to sit with you. Say hello to someone who looks like they’re having a rough day. Offer to help a classmate with their homework or walk home with them from school. Do something nice for one another. Tell your friends to do the same.
Not only will you have someone else to lean on if/when something like this does happen in your community, but your kindness might prevent someone from making your school another statistic.
Make enough finally be enough. The change starts with you.