384 days since Parkland…

The effect of school shootings on US schools

The United States flag waves high over Homestead High School on the Highlander walkway, greeting students and staff walking into the school.

Courtney Anderson

The United States flag waves high over Homestead High School on the Highlander walkway, greeting students and staff walking into the school.

It has been 384 days since Parkland, a horrific school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla, killing 17 and injuring many more. In the following year, school officials not only at Homestead but all around the nation have added more security measures in an attempt to prevent another shooting.

Nationally, the STOP School Violence Act was signed by the House, but not addressed by the Senate yet. This law gives grants to schools to update school security both to the building, and to helping the student body, ABC reports.  While this is being held up in legislator many states are providing money to the schools. More laws have been presented to national government but have had trouble being passed nationally because of people’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, which states that citizens have the right to own guns.

Groups such as Never Enough, started by Parkland survivors want change and to spread awareness. They have formed rallies and delivered speeches on the shootings taking place in the schools, Alex Wind is one of those students. “We are the generation that’s had to be trapped in closets, waiting for police to come, or waiting for a shooter to walk in.…We are the people that know what it’s like, first hand,” Wind said in an interview with 60 Minutes.

Wisconsin’s government granted around $100 million to schools to update their safety procedures. The state government also was willing to help fund safety procedure training, Fox News reports. Throughout the state, many schools will update not only with physical additions to the building but by creating a “community feel” to the school. Many schools were eager, like Homestead, to make changes.

Homestead increased school security and added trainings for teachers to learn more about shootings in schools. Other improvements, based on information found on the Mequon-Thiensville School District (MTSD) website, including controlling access into buildings, providing students resources to cope with mental health issues, helping students with bullying and social media, having more deterrent measures, and adding more professionals, such as counselors and security officials. Throughout the 2018-2019 school year, the MTSD made changes brought forth by “community collaboration and the district’s prioritization of resources” according to the MTSD website. With this input,  Homestead has prioritized a list of security measures to better secure the school.

Homestead teachers also attended meetings on how to enhance security in classrooms. Instead of the “common lockdown,” where students are kept quite in darkened corners of classrooms, which has been used for many years, the new trend is to “lock down, evade resist and tell” explained Kris Besler, a counselor with Homestead for 13 years. She, as well as the other staff members, wear a lanyard with the steps to safety on the back. “The reality is that lockdown is not necessarily the best response. If there was a school shooter in the building if you can get out you get out,” Besler said, “there is not much you can do when the group is sitting defenseless in a room; the chances are better if you can escape.”

Along with the actions that should be taken in the event of a school shooter, schools work to prevent violence from happening.

Over 64% of the shootings were targeted toward a certain individual or group, John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich reported in the Washington Post. “The shooters have a reason, and they show signs along the way,” Cox and Rich said. In many cases there are warning signs that schools either do not recognize or the school does nothing about them. Many skip over the warning signs such as bullying, family issues and relationship issues.

Homestead is addressing these issues by conducting a connection survey and making sure everyone has a good relationship with the students and staff at school. Along with that, “students understand they have a responsibility to keep us safe as well,” Besler said. “School security at Homestead is teamwork; everyone has to work together to make sure the school is safe.”

Looking into the future, students want to see change. “I want people to not have to have a fear of going to school, so I want the government to spend time finding solutions and focusing on fixing the problem,” Elizabeth Rater, sophomore, said. Rater also believes that if Homestead educated the student population about the “importance of reporting suspicious activity” and more specifically how to report it, the school could be safer. But Rater does feel safe in this school knowing that school officials are doing all they can to make sure she is safe.

Maddie Ludwig, freshman, is concerned that the rise in shootings in the United States is creating a very large problem for schools. “With the increase in gun shooting, school is not a place where students can go for safety like it had been in the past,” Ludwig said. She believes that with the increase in shootings there has been a good amount of awareness and change. “It makes me happy that Homestead is taking a lot of money and time to create a safe environment for students to learn in, as a student feel very safe here,” Ludwig said.

Although gun control remains a hotly debated topic, students and families can feel secure knowing the school, state government, and the national government is working to lessen the number of these violent events in schools.

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