Trigger Warning: A Call to Shoot This Problem Down

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Art credits to Emma Bertram!

Art credits to Emma Bertram!

Art credits to Emma Bertram!

Dhristi Raval ‘20

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Mass shooting: a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant. According to the Mass Shooting Tracker by BBC News, there were 372 school shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870. The Parkland shooting is already the sixth school shooting resulting in injuries this year. At least seventeen people were killed in the shooting on February 14, 2018, with twelve slain inside the school, according to Sheriff Scott Israel. Zaynab Kauser ‘21 expresses that this shooting was “terrible and something needs to be done about it. Someone needs to take action and realize that this is an issue that matters. Innocent kids are dying and that is not okay.” To prevent such horrific tragedies from happening in the future, it is essential that people work together. While the laws for possession of guns remains controversial, communities, schools, and parents can take initiative to help ensure that schools are safe.

Primarily, according to Dan Lu ‘20, “communities can provide high school students with many resources and facilities to improve their mental health conditions.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition. Additionally, more than 37% of Americans say they or a fellow household member owns a gun. In order to decrease the amount of school shootings across the nation, communities must address mental health issues in today’s youth. Doctors can detect factors such as propensity toward aggression, a marked lack of social connectedness, and a projected fixation with violence and guns though standardizing screening health checkups. If there are any concerns, the community should allow students to work with professional counselors to resolve issues.

Moreover, social media companies should detect possible threats to protect the community. This measure might have helped prevent the recent school shooting in Florida. Nikolas Cruz, the mass shooter, had previously posted a YouTube comment that read, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” With more investigation, people could have found the source of the comment and prevented the school shooting.

Furthermore, schools can enforce programs and take preventative measures by making some changes. For one thing, students should learn emotional skills to help them overcome stress and anxiety. Today, frequent social media use and a decrease in free play time have reduced children’s opportunities to learn essential social skills, so as a way to prevent student violence, school curriculum can integrate social and emotional skills . Students with more adept social skills may empathize with others and may be more able to recognize peers who may need additional support. Also, schools should hire more counselors and school resource officers to give students opportunities to ask for help. If a student is distressed and is considering resorting to violence, counselors can help students find healthy outlets for emotional turmoil. Although putting trained school resource officers and counselors in every school is costly, it has the potential to save the lives of many teenagers.

Lastly, parents can be very influential in the lives of growing teenagers. While students may be harrowed and in need of help, parents can provide aid and help students make the right choice. Parents should assess their child’s use of social media, sleep, and eating habits; historically, psychologists have proposed that many school shooters lacked strong social relationships.

Heartbroken by the tragedy, thousands of people across the nation are paying tribute to the lives of the teenagers and protesting for legislation on gun control. While many citizens argue that individuals have the inalienable right to gun possession, the right accounts for a large percentage of school shootings. On March 14 of 2018, many students at Ridge planned to walk out to commemorate the seventeen people who died in the mass shooting as well as protest the lack of government involvement regarding school shootings. Overall, schools, communities, and parents must come together to support one another to protect the lives of innocent students.

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