In the weeks following the Parkland school shooting, a group of students from Santa Fe High School in Texas joined a national walkout to call for action on school gun violence.
As part of that protest, students waved signs that read “Never Again.” (Read more on that in this New York Times story.)
But last Friday, those students became part of a gruesome, tragic fraternity, when a gunman opened fire in their school, killing 10 (8 students and two teachers) and injuring 13 more.
After a firefight with police, the suspect was taken into custody. Explosives were also found at the scene, ABC News reports.
The national reaction in the wake of this latest shooting has been a mix of outrage, sadness, and perhaps most tragic: inevitability.
As Madilyn Williams, a student at Santa Fe tells the New York Times, “In the back of my mind, I knew it was going to happen.”
The latest shooting has reignited fierce debates over school security, youth mental health, and gun control.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo made headlines with a heated Facebook post, in which he expressed his frustrations in the debate over guns. “I know some have strong feelings about gun rights,” wrote the veteran lawman, “but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue.”
A tweet from March for Our Lives, the activist organization championed by survivors of the Parkland shooting, urged Americans to stay vigilant. “Though this is the 22nd school shooting this year, we urge those reading this not to sweep it under the rug and forget.”
— March For Our Lives (@AMarch4OurLives) May 18, 2018
As graduation ceremonies and end-of–year activities take place in school districts across the country, this latest tragedy and the still-fresh memories of others like it will undoubtedly cast a shadow over what many hoped would be a time of healing and a celebration of student achievement.
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School district leaders and other safety experts continue to preach perspective. While the number of high-profile school shootings is up in recent years, statistics show that public schools remain among the safest places for children to be.
As Dr. Nora Carr, chief of staff at Guilford County Schools in North Carolina and an expert in school communications and crisis management reminded us in an interview for the TrustED podcast after Parkland:
“When we step back, we need to remember that schools are still the safest place overall for kids to be. I think it’s going to take some time for us to be able to return to some sense of normalcy given the horrific tragedy that recently occurred and just the increasing number that we seem to be dealing with. And yet, we do know that schools are the safest places in most cases for kids to be and we need to try help get the focus back there.”
It’s a fine line between recognizing and assuaging a growing sense of inevitability around school gun violence, and reassuring communities that their schools are safe.
What is your school or district doing to engage its community in important safety conversations in the wake of yet another shooting tragedy? Tell us in the comments.