Stop Desensitizing School Shootings

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Stop Desensitizing School Shootings

Benjamin Lunceford, Staff Writer

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About a month ago, September 27th, a snapchat message was passed around the local charter middle school Multnomah Learning Academy, MLA. The message implied that a shooting would occur at the elementary school campus on Monday the 30th. The principal at MLA is my girlfriend’s mom, so I got to witness first hand the terror of this situation, and how it can go on to affect someone so negatively that it brings them to tears.

On Monday, Oct.7th,  there was another message being passed around on snapchat. This time it was a screenshot of a text conversation where an individual identified himself as a member of a gang, and made a threat to enter Gresham High School with an automatic firearm and commit mass murder.

Yet again, on Tuesday the 8th, another shooting threat was spread around against Powell Valley Elementary School in the Gresham-Barlow school district.
After talking to a close friend of mine from Gresham, she told me that while it was scary, she felt as if  she were desensitized to the situation. 

Unfortunately, this emotional disconnection is a common notion in our society today. As a senior in high school, I remember when I was in elementary school, and a school shooting was never a situation that ever crossed my mind. The worst thing that could happen was something silly like my mom forgetting to pick me up, right? 

I remember so vividly the day in eighth grade when our principal came on the intercom and informed us all that there was a bomb threat called in. What did my school do? Treated it like it was nothing; Although scary, it didn’t feel real. Nothing like this had really happened before, and it wasn’t something ingrained into our heads to be fearful of.

Every day I walk in the doors of my school, I hope it isn’t the day where I lose my friends or even my own life. But I also feel a sense of desensitization. So many kids are murdered each year. Reynolds high school, Stone Man Douglas, Sandy Hook, even going back to 1999 with Columbine. In all honesty, I can’t remember all of the schools who have been terrorized by a monster with a gun. Is that because I have a bad memory, or has this happened so many times that it’s impossible to count the number of times on your fingers?

School shootings are horrendous, we all agree on that. And woefully my generation is the generation that has to suffer through it. For kindergarteners, to high school seniors, every single one of us has this thought in the back of our heads. We don’t ever think it will happen at our school, except that everyone thinks that until it happens. I see jokes on the internet all the time about school shootings, most of the time made by high school students. Now whether the person who made that joke is just sick and demented, or if its their coping mechanism is a different question on its own.

Despite all of this, I find myself as someone who is still a child but I am told to act like an adult. Yes, I am approaching my 18th birthday, but that does not mean I should have to be ready at all times for a monster to walk into my school and murder my friends? No. Why should a 1st grader have to be told that if they hear gunfire, that they should only think for themselves and run, or hide. It isn’t normal. I understand that we as students can’t control the people who commit these heinous acts of violence, but everyone talks about something being done instead of actually doing something to protect our country’s youth. After the Reynolds shooting in 2014, they moved buildings and added some security features, such as a door buzzer, better security systems, and one more security guard; But is that really enough? Our school has one school resource officer, and three security guards. That hardly seems like enough to keep 1,500 students safe, especially considering that none of our security staff are armed, with the only person in the building with a firearm being our SRO. And no, I am not suggesting we add more firearms into our building. But ask yourself, what is really being done to keep us safe? How much do adults actually care about the safety of the students in school?

A good example of what is being done that is counterproductive to our safety, is the media. How many times do you see shootings and mass murders being broadcasted on the tv? When Sandy Hook happened, there were reporters shoving cameras in little kid’s faces 20 minutes after their classmates were slaughtered. Those children were screaming, and bawling, begging them to stop. Did that stop? No, they didn’t care.They wanted to get the story and broadcast a horrible crime to the world. They want the scoop, and they make it seem so normal that it desensitizes the population. Which is not only completely insensitive and wrong, but I guarantee you that the media showcasing school shootings gives these monsters ideas in their heads, and that definitely does not help stop these all too common massacres.   

So what can we do? Advocate for yourself, and protect your classmates. It’s hard not to just shrug off a ‘threat’ that is being passed around on social media, because we are all so ‘used’ to it. But say something. Don’t think, “Oh this is a joke, it’s fine”. Because it’s never okay. Tell someone, whether its a teacher, parent, or another trusted adult. You cannot be silent. There is too much in jeopardy for you to be silent about it. If you want to be anonymous about it, you can go to safeoregon.com, and report the incident. Just please, say something. You may be saving a life. It’s time for us to take action and stop normalizing this terrible phenomenon. 

We all deserve a childhood, and we shouldn’t have to be terrorized by the thought that any day could be our last.

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