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Twenty-one weeks into 2018, our country witnessed twenty-three school shootings where a person was either hurt or killed. That total is out to be more than one school shooting a week. Unfortunately, our minds have become conditioned to hearing about school shootings that as a society we do not react the way we should. Everyone should have the right to go to school and feel safe. A school should be a place where students can relax, their only focus being to learn. Believe it or not, school safety is something that is preventing students to learn to their fullest ability. The public policy challenge that I will be discussing is keeping schools safe. There was a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida resulting in seventeen people being killed and fourteen wounded. A few months after this shooting, a survey from the Pew Research Center was conducted showing that a staggering fifty-seven percent of United States teenagers fear that a school shooting could occur at their school. One of every four students are very concerned about the chance of this happening. This shows that more than half of the percentage of teenagers fear, which sounds astonishing but not surprising considering our past.
More than two hundred fifteen thousand students have experienced gun violence in recent years. For students, these encounters have traumatized them for the rest of their lives. Not only are they afraid in a school setting but they become scared when they have human contact with people. They begin to question the decency of intentions that any human has even if that means just passing someone while you are walking on a sidewalk. When a person is put through a disturbing situation it is human nature to not see things in the same positive aspect they previously had. Students are not the only people affected by this disturbing trend. Teachers are also very frightened when it comes to shootings. Teachers on campus are at the same amount of risk as students or even more. When these shootings occur, most adults feel responsible to protect the children. An example of this was when the heroic geography teacher sacrificed himself to protect a group of students from a school shooter in Florida. Students go to school for the sole purpose to learn and without teachers that would not be possible. It is very unfair that educators who work in the school setting have to fear for their lives when all they are trying to do is teach. Nobody should have the fear of being killed when simply doing their job. In order to solve what seems like a series of unfortunate events, teachers have proposed a notion that they should be armed in order to protect students from these shooters. After, a listening session at the White House the president came to the conclusion that allowing teachers to be armed may cause more problem than solution in the long run. There was a lot of backlash and conversation on whether or not educators should be able to carry a gun for safety purposes. Instead of granting this schools are putting an emphasis on how to handle when shootings take place by drills and active-shooter trainings.
Teachers and people who work in the educational field are becoming more and more aware on how to deal with these situations considering they happen often. Although, when an active shooter comes begins shooting on campus no preparation can do justice. The median age of school shooters is sixteen. These soon to be adults often have backgrounds of mental illness, family complications, poverty, or abuse. The media plays an enormous role in the motives behind the shooters. Jamie Rouse is a seventeen-year-old who attended Richland High School before he decided to shoot the school up. His actions lead to the death of a teacher and a student. After being interviewed due to the shooting Rouse made it clear that he did it because the movie Natural Born Killers made the act of killing look fun and easy. Violent videogames are commonly played by millions of children, out of those millions there are a couple who feel inspired by killing. These select few play enjoy killing not for the satisfaction of just winning the game but it goes deeper than that. In our society today, people thrive off of violence. Finding a way to balance the violence in the virtual and technology world and the real world is something that needs to be discovered to prevent more innocent children losing their lives. Shootings in schools have resulted into a heaty debate over if stricter gun control would help stop school shootings. This discussion seems endless. Pro-gun Americans will argue the point that it isn’t guns that kill people, rather it is the people killing themselves. They believe that taking away guns is a violation of people expressing their rights. I believe that restricting guns will only keep from the people who use guns for the right reasons and those who are determined to use them for the wrong reason will still get a hold of it. People who want to partake in a school shooting will find a way to get a gun even if they are illegal. For example, people still get drugs knowing they are illegal.
Therefore, I do not believe that gun control should be the main focus when trying to find a solution to this problem. I believe that the topic of focus should be on mental illness awareness. Again and again we see these murderers being those who have some sort of mental sickness. It is unfortunate that many of these shootings could have been prevented if society paid more attention to those who are ill. Their thinking is simply not in the right state of mind. Now, I am not saying their actions are justified but if people took this sickness more serious I definitely feel that we would see less shootings occur in a school setting. A reason that people tend to not speak out about their mental state is because of the portrayal that society has placed on those individuals. Some people are afraid that if they talk about their unhealthy state of mind that they will be looked at as “weird” or “different”. As humans we have been trained since youth to not talk publically about our issues that could involve something negative we are going through. The government could do a better job making people feel like it is okay to talk about their problems. They could do this by making more advertisements, magazines, commercial’s, and campaigns regarding the issue.
Overall, if more attention was directed here then more people would feel like they are not alone and that is when we will see a difference in the world. The best governmental approach to solve this problem of mass shootings in the United States is for the government to be honest to the people. There are no laws that can be made that will entirely stop shootings for good. Gun control laws limit the right to guns but it will not stop people who are focused on shooting. Another action that the government could take is creating schools that are have more fences and stop building schools that are so widely open. Doing this would create less opportunity for unwanted trespassers strolling around on their campuses. The government could provide money to private security companies to construct metal detectors and other things that a person with a gun could not get past. Although, investing in these companies will be expensive I believe that it is worth it.
Protection and safety are two very important components when discussing what schools need to have in 2018. Parents, teachers, communities, and the government all play a vital role in giving qualities to children so that these shootings will not occur. Parents can work on paying more attention to their child’s life whether that be in school or home. Sometimes children just need to know that someone cares and they will not make actions that they will later regret. These are all approaches that can be made to slowly but surely solve this issue. Society hears about a school shooting and within a week or two people tend to tune the news out. This happens because the school shooting is not “old” news and something else has caught the attention of Americans. Because of this, the government also fails to do anything about the issue. America has to keep in mind that the families whose children have now passed will always be affected by these tragedies, just because it is not on the news does not mean the problem went away. The people in our country have very different opinions and at times it can be difficult to agree on things. Although, one thing that mostly everyone can agree on is that we are tired of seeing another mass shooting headline on the news. People are ready to do anything to seek change.
I believe that when communities come together in hopes of achieving the same goal, anything can be possible with the participation of the government. Everyone should have the right to an education. Educating the youth is important because it allows for the newer generations to grow and explore ideas beyond our current thinking. The youth is the future of this country so it is important that we emphasize the safety in schools. If people feel terrified of going to school, there is no way that learning is possible. Feeling comfortable is the basic foundation in which you need to thrive. Teachers and students have the right to feel like they are in a safe environment at all times. This is a public policy challenge that needs to be addressed and solved before the situation gets even worse.
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