Letter to the Editor: School Shootings

Image created by A. Rudolph

S. Manku, Gator's Eye Reader

According to CNN, last year there were 45 school shootings in 46 weeks. This is a problem. The chances of being involved in a shooting are 1 in 2 million so why are schools being rebuilt to protect victims during them?

Fruitport High School in Michigan is undergoing a reconstruction which will make it have curved hallways and “shadow zones”for students to hide in classrooms. Some people believe that funding should be used to prevent shootings and others believe that the funding should be used to protect in the event of a shooting. In September of last year, which was the month with the highest amount of school shootings, Hillary Clinton tweeted, in response to reports about the Fruitport rebuilding, “We’re utterly failing kids as a society when we build schools to accommodate shooters rather than students.”

Hillary Clinton is right, we as students are being failed. Schools need to focus more on preventing shootings so that they don’t have to try to protect students during them. The Washington Post stated in an article that “When asked what, if anything, could have prevented the shootings at their schools, nearly half replied that there was nothing they could have done. Several, however, emphasized the critical importance of their staffs developing deep, trusting relationships with students, who often hear about threats before teachers do.” It is important for teachers and staff members to learn the signs of when a student is troubled and could pose a threat to the school’s learning environment. If students form trusting relationships with even one adult at school, they would have someone to talk to and wouldn’t have to resort to extreme violence.

Some people, like Paul Noe, believe in protecting students during shootings rather than preventing shootings from occurring. Mr. Noe sells Bulletproof school classroom doors for four thousand dollars each. In an article The Washington Post wrote, Justin Kuhn said that “If you think $500,000 is expensive, go down to Parkland, Florida, and tell 17 people $500,000 is expensive. That’s $29,000 a kid.” Kuhn adds, “Every person would pay $29,000 a kid to have their kid alive.” While Kuhn is right, $29,000 is nothing compared to a student’s life, many schools and families don’t have that much money. It isn’t fair to only offer protection at school of all places to just the people who can pay.

According to Best Counseling Degrees, the average school counselor makes 56,170 a year. It would be a lot cheaper to hire four school counselors than put bulletproof classroom doors in a school. NPR reported that most school shooters are current or former students and they have a “curious combination of both depression and paranoia.” School counselors are people that these troubled students could talk to. The counselors could help students find healthy ways to deal with their problems. The counselors are a better way to prevent shootings from even happening. NBC said this in an article; “Over the past 20 years, however, schools have been slow to adopt threat assessment. Instead, they have pursued two common practices that scientific research has found do not work. First, schools continue to invest billions of dollars annually in building security measures, many of which were in place in the schools that experienced attacks. Multiple studies have concluded that physical security measures are not linked to increased safety; on the contrary, they increase student fears.” This is proof that addressing the mental health aspect of shootings is far more effective in preventing school shootings.

Making schools like fortresses will only traumatize the innocent and doesn’t help the students who need it. Schools will save the potential shooters and victims by addressing the mental health of students and teachers. Schools need to do a better job of preventing school shootings. Even if it’s providing better mental health services that could reach troubled students. School shootings are affecting everyone. Whether it’s teachers, students, parents, law enforcement officers or even the shooter themselves, the constant fear of a school getting “shot up” is affecting everyone. If there’s anything that you should take away from reading this, it is that we need to stop the constant violence in schools because it affects everyone. I as a student live in fear of getting murdered at school; I literally was cold and shaking as I researched and wrote this. Shootings are making tomorrow’s adults live in fear which, no doubt, will affect the future of the world. Please help.