When I sat down to write this, I was immediately distracted by texts from my friends and school group chats. It’s exam week at my school, but I’m sick and taking all my finals online, so I was confused about why so many people were texting while exams were going on.
It wasn’t about exams. My school was in a hard lockdown, and there was a gun in the building.
Apparently, an underclassman had brought a gun to school today, and according to an anonymous confessions page on Instagram, they had done this before. There was panic and confusion from all the students, and nobody, not even the teachers, knew what was going on.
Today was the perfect day for me to miss school, but I was still insanely nervous for my friends. I kept a close eye on my phone to make sure everything was okay. The lockdown lasted for around an hour and a half before they slowly began letting students out of their classrooms and letting them go home.
During the lockdown, police and possibly the FBI could be seen outside of the buildings. There was very little communication about what was going on. No gunshots were heard and nobody got hurt. We were a lucky instance of no harm coming from a hard lockdown in an American school.
This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced the threat of a school shooting. I’ve been in various soft lockdowns before, and a hard lockdown once before in middle school.
A student had brought a gun to school, taken it out of his bag in the middle of class, and aimed it at the teacher’s head. He then took a photo of doing this and put the gun away. Nobody noticed because he was in the back of the class, but he posted it online. Eventually, he was suspended.
I have a very vivid memory of one of my friends who doesn’t live in my state calling me in the middle of class. I had to step outside to pick up the call and she was crying, telling me that there had just been a shooting at her school. She was okay, and nobody had ended up getting hurt because the shooter had been found and stopped quickly. However, the shooter had a “kill list” consisting of almost everyone in the school.
Many American students can recall a terrifying moment of either a threat of a school shooting or actually being in one. I’m lucky enough to have never had to experience the horror of a true shooting. But we shouldn’t have to fear for one in the first place.
Students at my school still have to show up to school tomorrow, despite many people expressing that they don’t feel safe enough to do that. If I can take my exams online, I think the rest of us could also. However, our administration doesn’t want to take the time to plan that out.
My school is also one of the few schools in my city without metal detectors. However, metal detectors and the way people run them don’t always work: my middle school had metal detectors and the person was still able to get the gun into school.
And that person from my middle school had only gotten suspended. In my opinion, anyone who brings a gun or threatens a school should be dealt with not just punishment, but also help. Therapy and other mental health resources should be given to the person for free. Clearly, if someone is doing something like that, they’re not in a good headspace. That should be treated before things get worse.
There are many, many things that I would change about the American school system. But one of my biggest issues is with safety.
Lockdown procedures have never felt safe to me. If there’s a shooter, the shooter is a kid who has gone through the same practice procedures before. The kid knows that there are people in the classrooms. A door with just one lock is not going to stop somebody with a gun. I think there should be fire escapes on every window of every classroom. With our current lockdown procedures, you’re trapped in the room. Unless you’re on the ground floor, you have no way of escaping if danger comes at you.
That’s just one thing I would change. Our schools are not safe. And unless you get young people who have actually been through these things to help create new rules, things aren’t going to get any safer.