Fear. In today's American public school systems, students are now forced into fearing for their lives every time they enter the institution of learning. It is ridiculous. School is suppose to be the safest place possible for a child, but not anymore. As an outbreak of school shootings has taken place within the past two years, students all over the country must evaluate their safety in schools. This evaluation has challenged them with a dilemma of an ever growing terror that has captured the nation.
As the student body and the faculty of Columbine High School in Littleton,Colorado are coping with the loss of their twelve peers and teacher, schools all over the nation are taking extra precautions to ensure that such a shooting will not take place at their school. Being a high school student, I have a first-hand account of what it feels like to go to school everyday fearing the worst, for my high school, North Hagerstown High School is also burdened by the threats and fear.
Recently threats about bombs and shootings have been passed along throughout the public schools of Washington County, Maryland. However it is not just this county, but the country. It is unfortunate that some students are copycatting the situation in Littleton to play games with the emotions of the country, but that incident seemed to spark a wave of fear. Students in school are now paranoid that some insane person is going to jump out of the hallway bathroom carrying a semi-automatic weapon ready to shoot anything that walks.
Since Columbine's tragedy, my friends and I have been discussing this issue frequently. We all agree that this situation is somewhat ludicrous, but we also agree that it is real. As absurd as it may sound, my friends and I have been spending our lunch periods planning escape routes just in case. I have heard students say that they would jump out the nearest window if necessary even if it is the second story window. I have also heard some of my peers say that if this situation presented itself upon them, then they would "play dead". They actually suggested bringing in packets of ketchup and squirting it all over themselves to fool the gunmen into believing that they were already shot, and if they did not have ketchup then they would rub an already shot student's blood on themselves. I, on the other hand thought both plans were ridiculous, not to mention morbid. These comments surprised me because it dawned on me how if this situation ever happened, the students would take drastic measures to get out of the building, not to mention how situation brought up the "imaginative" side of the students.
The faculty and the administration of North have done what they can to ensure the student's safety, but despite their efforts, the students still have doubts. In some ways students can even see some of the fears of the teachers. As far as I know, there have been a lot more closed and locked doors during class time than there were before.
This issue is obviously a sensitive matter. Within the past two years many school shootings have taken place, yet it takes Columbine to finally instill fear into the public school systems of America. What caused this sudden out pour of concern? It seems that when there were shootings in Padukah, Kentucky, Pearl, Mississippi, and so on, the school systems did not react as meticulously as they are currently. Maybe it is because of the number of lives lost. Maybe it is the idea that two young men would be as so audacious as to plan to murder hundreds of innocent people. Maybe it is the media hype around all the angst and confusion of the tragedy in Littleton. Maybe it is the issue of violence in the media. Maybe it is the controversial issue of teens and guns. Whatever it may be though, all of those aspects played a role into the slight reformation of American public schools.
The public has criticized the NRA (National Rifle Association), violence in the media, and even the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, but everyone must realize that it was not just one factor that contributed to Columbine's crisis or the other shootings within the last two years. The reasons for such actions taken by those students were based on everything from the media to how the students in school treated them to how their current mental state was at the time. Blaming their actions solely on one factor is not reasonable.
An issue that has not been frequently addressed as a cause for the two young men's actions is the fact that the student body of Columbine rejected them. High school is never a good place to show true individuality for it has two results: popularity or rejection. Most of the time the results are rejection, such as in their case. Does this justify the heinous actions of the two young men? No. But it influenced them in such a way that it caused harm to the entire nation. I can say that since this tragedy, my peers have been expressing their concerns on how not to get shot by being amicable to everyone. They realize that poking fun at another hurts that person and in turn could hurt them back.
When the school day is finally over and everyone is safe, a breath of relief can be heard throughout the nation. It is a tragedy when students are more concerned with jumping out the nearest window instead of who they are going to take to prom. Since Columbine's tragedy however, it is all we think about, and it will be a fear that present and future students will deal with for the rest of their careers in education.
Written by Loan V.
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