Generation Z have never known a world without the fear and anxieties of a shooting happening at their school. They were born into an era shaped by Columbine and Sandy Hook, and have grown up wincing at loud noises in the halls and practicing active shooter drills.
“No one should have to worry”
“I remember doing drills in the third grade,” Said Savannah Holder. “My teacher told us ‘Alright guys, get into your hiding space’ and I hid behind her desk. No kid should have to worry about that.”
They are all too familiar with the stinging pain as another school shooting is announced in the news and are used to the debates of gun control that follow. In the past decade alone there has been roughly fifteen mass school shootings that have taken the lives of innocent students and teachers.
“The first big school shooting I remember hearing about was in Parkland,” Said Hannah Liddy, referencing the shooting that took the lives of seventeen students and teachers in Florida in 2018. “My school had a walkout in support of gun control.”
According to The American Psychological Association, 90% of Generation Z have experienced some form of anxiety in their lifetime and for some that has been because of the attacks in schools.
“After the Parkland shooting, I was afraid of going to school,” Said Liddy. “I remember a chip bag popped in the lunchroom and everyone freaked out. We were all terrified we were next.”
For some students, the terrors of school shootings are more than a fear but almost a reality.
“There was a real threat my senior year,” Said Kieira White. “My best friend and I were walking in the hall after school and were dragged into a classroom by a teacher. No one told us what was going on, I thought we were going to die.”
According to White, the threat was a false alarm but she still remembers the fear she felt as she held her best friend in that dark classroom.
“Whenever I’m in a room on campus, I make sure I know where each and every exit is,” said Holder. “So that I know exactly where the attacker can come in and where I can get out. That is the sad reality of our lives.”
Taking its toll
The everyday threat of going to school has even taken its toll on future teachers. Xander Taylor, an education major at LCCC, says that school threats are becoming a hardship in his career choice.
“I am afraid it’s going to get to the point with us talking about these events that paranoia is going to take over,” he said. Taylor fears that soon homeschooling will become more prevalent as a way to avoid these shootings. “These shootings are going to put a damper on my career and although I am not a teacher yet, I am already worried about my future students.”
As for some of Generation Z, they feel as if America is not doing enough to keep them safe in their schools.
“I get that the Second Amendment is a thing,” said Liddy, “But when that was made, they didn’t have automatic assault rifles. They didn’t have to fear that one day someone would finally snap and that would be the end.”
“These drills are so common place and its ridiculous,” said Taylor. “No one should have to worry about sending their kid to elementary school and be afraid they will get shot. It’s terrifying.”
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