School shootings’ an unexpectedly brutal attack on the mentality of students nationwide

Soon after the release of the 2010 song “Pumped Up Kicks”, the band, Foster The People, faced monumental backlash for seemingly romanticizing school shootings. Unlike the typical pop songs at that time about love or partying, the group decided to center their song on the Columbine school shooting, considering they were advocates to end the violence towards kids and teens that was increasing in America. While the song makes a commentary on the creations of these isolated type of kid that dreams of mass murder and then eventually acts on it, to point out this reoccurring situation in America, the only thing gathered by people was the band telling kids to run from their gun. 

Sadly enough, this commentary and message weren’t picked up, and twelve years later school shootings have become almost rampant. As shown within schools including the East Oakland School Complex.

Normally, the moments before schools release time, are the moments where students are filled with relief and even joy, but now this feeling is dissipating within them to only be replaced by anguish. We have all felt that deep pit in our stomach, whether it be from starting a new job or school with no one to help us get through it, or when we have to make a speech to a large audience of unknown faces. However, this deep pit of anguish within students isn’t the same or hasn’t been in the past few decades. 

Last Wednesday afternoon, 2 gunmen opened fire only a few minutes before the East Oakland School Complex students were supposed to go home. The gunmen fired 30 rounds as they entered, leaving 2 students and 4 adults injured. Although, these physical fatalities don’t account for the trauma everyone within the school is left behind with, as well as students across America as we face over 200 mass shootings this year, with more than 25 being school shootings. 

How are current students affected or responding to this?

We call the school a “learning environment”, a place meant to spark higher levels of thinking, analyzing, and problem-solving within kids, however, it gets extremely difficult to do such when students and teachers know that the possibility of an active shooter entering their school isn’t exactly low, to the point where students have become nearly desensitized to the probability of such an event. 

A video has even gone viral of a teacher rapidly stacking chairs along her room’s door to prevent anyone from getting in, with zero hesitation, when her school called for a lockdown with no other context as to what it might be from. Even videos of students, making TikToks of them during their lockdowns with captions like “chilling ig”, have gotten great amounts of traction with comments just laughing along, because these events are no longer a one-in-a-million type thing. The fear is still prevalent but now it’s like we won’t be surprised if the event occurred.

Student cried out of nerves and frustration in front of her class building last week, due to a new discovered weight of school.
A student cried out of nerves and frustration in front of her class building last week, due to a newly discovered weight of school. (Betty Desta)

 We all might have that fear/nightmare of being robbed or a victim of a brutal crime, but now kids who should be thinking about math or English work, are forming the same fears to follow them until they can finish school.

Although, it is true that the U.S. hasn’t experienced any school shootings in a few years before 2022, suggesting that maybe these acts of gun violence within schools, are decreasing and thus the fear they lay on kids in what is supposed to be an enlightening learning environment. However, this fact wholly admits that only the action to prevent acts of gun violence within the school was a global pandemic where many students couldn’t even go onto their school’s campus because of the fear of exposure to Covid-19 and endangering students. 

And today, we are at rate of more than three hundred thousand students who have been victims or experienced school shootings, even with the pandemic, being three hundred thousand plus students too much.

While these particular acts of violence aren’t extraordinarily often, they remain these deep reminders to students that even their schools aren’t safe, making it difficult to focus on the tedious work in front of you when all you can think about is what you should do if your school ever announces a lockdown. 

Even as I enter my last year of high school, I occasionally get that feeling of gratitude that after this year, I won’t have to imagine that I could be a victim at the hands of some vicious person but then again I still have more than eight months till I can let that sign of relief leave me.