Schools across the nation begin awareness for school shootings


Students hold a rally at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla. following a school shooting on Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo courtesy Coral Springs Talk from Coral Springs, United States)

  School shootings in America have spurred enormous discussions throughout the news and social media since the beginning of 2018. The shooting in Parkland, Fla. struck a chord with many students throughout America and drove them to step up and speak out about their opinions on the issue.

  Social media has an impact on what many people across the nation think and believe. Being on social media allows people to be exposed to issues and ideas that might otherwise be swept under the rug. Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, posted an abundance of photos with captions on his Instagram account during the weeks leading up to the shooting. Cruz posted pictures of small animals he had shot and extensively posted about his love for guns. Many of his former peers said that Cruz would joke about bringing guns on campus and being the one to shoot up the school. After the shooting, many students spoke up about his tendencies, after it was too late.

  The topic of guns around schools, which was previously hoped to be avoidable, soon became a hot topic in the news and other media. Teachers and students across the nation began actively talking about school shootings after Parkland. With many teens having access to social media when most teachers do not have the same level of interest or access, it is easy for students to bypass posts, captions, or photos that are abnormal, just like most students did with Cruz. Having the access to social media like high school students do makes it very easy for people to speak up when there is a post or photo that raises suspicion. Speaking up makes the situations easier for school administrators because they can take the proper steps to avoid a shooting.

  Seeing posts on social media can bring up the issue of bullying when students are talking about someone or a group of people in the halls. Teachers err on the side of caution when confronted with situations that include a potential safety issue. Being in a teacher’s position can be hard because they then have to consider what would be the best choice going forward to resolving the bullying issue that was brought up. Having counselors and administration accessible to students is also a way to keep the line of communication open at all times, so that they feel comfortable with speaking up about a post on social media. If a student is concerned by a post on social media, they should immediately show a trusted teacher or administrator, who would then have the responsibility to determine what to do with the information. “I talk to the student first and then contact parents,” resource officer Randel Pitchford said. “We usually team up with the counselors as well. If the student is under 18, I have to contact parents. They can give me background on their child like owning any weapons or any odd behavior at home.” Students have become very confident in stepping up in the first months of 2018, and teachers are open to hearing what their students have to say.

  Maintaining honesty with students is critical to assure awareness throughout schools. With honesty comes a lot of conversation about the potential of a school shooting, even though many people do not want to think or talk about such tragedies. Teachers and administrators across the nation are becoming very quick to address rumblings of a school shooting, even if it is brought up in a joking manner. Administration at Sheridan High School want to hear from students and teachers as soon as possible to be able to stop plans of a shooting. Pitchford explained that following a previous threat on Sheridan High School, they brought in DCI (Department of Criminal Investigation) with technical experts that can research online material to find the source of the post to identify the students involved.

  Recent events in America are proving that students are able to step up and speak out about things they believe in, telling the nation to prepare for the absolute worst even in places that seem to be the safest. Even through the worst tragedies, there are many positive aspects to take into account. Since the Parkland shooting, there are schools across the country that have become much more aware of the possibility, and what to do amid a terrible tragedy.