by IRIS LIN
Another school shooting on the news. Pictures of victims and heroic stories of saviors. A sad loss of innocent lives at the hands of a cruel, psychotic teenager. Right? Wrong. Stop simply labeling kids as “mentally unstable” when the news doesn’t tell the full story and no one cares enough to find out the whole truth.
The answer to resolving school shootings is not a crackdown on gun control. An endless back-and-forth debate will make no difference in the fight to end school violence. While politicians jab at each other over aimless niceties the real issue is still at hand– stop pointing fingers at who is to blame and start asking the question: why?
People who shoot are angry. They’re emotional. There’s a reason why they want to leave the world with a bang: they’re unhappy. “He’s a sick kid” or “There’s something wrong with his head” are assumptions made by ignorant people that don’t make the effort to understand, only corrupting public thought with their naive claims. It’s time to wake up; teenagers don’t bring bullets and homemade bombs to school, massacring their peers and turning the gun on themselves, without a reason–and the reason that should not be impulsively branded “mental illness.”
Instead of 13 to 14 years of childhood to explore, to see the world, to meet new people, we instead are held slave to a bell that rings every 57 minutes, beaten to fit the mold of normal, and forced to bear the standards of our curriculum. It is no longer enough to just work hard in school. Join a sport, a club, volunteer. Be active in your community, get teacher recommendation letters, assume leadership roles. A 4.0 won’t get you anywhere–go beyond that, go above that, and beat out everybody else until it is only you at the top of the podium.
Pressure, anxiety, stress, depression. Teenage life is an emotional roller coaster, and the bulk of the negative feelings come from where they spend seven hours a day, five days a week, 180 days a year at: high school. The school environment is often less than friendly. School is pressuring not only because of academic demands, but in the social aspect as well. Can we say that everyone on campus feels welcomed and cared for? This isn’t simply about relieving student stress, it’s on making sure students sometimes look to the future.
Everyone can be empathetic; everyone can be compassionate. It’s just a matter of how much you care. Everybody hurts, but what sets apart those who heal and those who break is whether or not there is someone there for them. There are more students who are neglected and uncared for than people realize.
There shouldn’t be a need to amp security. There shouldn’t be question of whether or not you’re safe, whether or not your school could be next. Instead of a safe haven, it’s become a shooting ground. Instead of looking forward to a bright future, it’s become not living until graduation day. It should never have become like this. We can do better, starting now.