Opinion: Education and Protection for Gun Violence in Schools


Photo by: Cat Hechter

We’re Overdue for a Change                                                                       

Since 1970, there have been 2,032 school shootings in the United States. Since 1999, there have been over 300,000 students on site of a school shooting. And yet, there is still no proper way to protect students during these events.

Sure, lockdown drills can protect students to an extent, but it’s incredibly easy for someone dangerous to harm them that way. There have been countless methods proposed to protect students in alternate ways — one being Run, Hide, Fight — but so little is known about these to students and teachers, and the people who need to know.  As a society, we may not be able to stop people from doing dangerous things, but we can always control how we prepare for and react to it.

To my knowledge, I didn’t learn about Run, Hide, Fight in school. But after hearing about it, I did research and this is how Run, Hide, Fight works. According to St. Mary’s Office of Public Safety, your first and most important option is to run, which means evacuating the building if possible, bringing others (don’t stay for people who don’t want to go,) and calling 911 when you are safe. When you are unable to or unwilling to run, the next thing to do is hide silently in the safest place possible, silencing phones and turning off lights. Make sure to barricade the door with furniture. As an absolute last resort, there’s fight, which means incapacitating the active shooter to your best ability. Throw items, use a fire extinguisher, and be aggressive. 

According to Sandy Hook Promise, there are over 4.6 million kids who live in a household with a firearm that’s loaded and unlocked. Along with that, 68% of guns used in school shootings were acquired from their home, a relative, or a friend. In 80% of school shootings, someone knows that it’s going to happen and doesn’t tell anyone. The leading death cause for children and teens is guns, with one in 10 gun deaths being people under the age of 19. And still, we are barely doing anything to protect our students and staff from active shooters and gun violence.

Of course, it’s hard to give lessons on new methods of protection to all of the students in the school, but it is a real issue, and something that really does need to be fixed. Students shouldn’t be told that standing in a dark corner of a classroom will actually defend them from someone capable of taking their life. 

There may never be enough preparation to help save everyone, but right now we’re only doing the bare minimum. We need teachers and students to take courses on how to recognize the signs of a troubled student with violent thoughts, as there are 80% of students that show signs, such as sudden withdrawal from friends, bullying, and more; we just don’t notice.

We need better systems for protecting ourselves in case there is an active shooter in the school. Teachers and students all need to sit through a lesson about alternate ways to defend themselves because there are many more than what we practice right now. Students in Virginia are only required to complete two lockdown drills per year (VDOE), which leaves us almost completely unprepared for an actual event of a school shooter. Teachers and students need to be educated about gun violence instead of school systems doing the bare minimum. 

We need more support, and we need more knowledge. We all need to be educated on gun violence and the effects of it, instead of turning the lights off and crouching under a desk twice a year. There are so many dangers of gun violence in America, and we’re way overdue to talk about it and learn about it. Teachers and students deserve to be protected.