School Threats Are a Collective Responsibility

School+Threats+Are+a+Collective+Responsibility

On Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, Livermore High School families and students received an email an hour prior to school starting that a student made alarming threats to cause harm on campus. The situation was neutralized on Sept. 15 before anything could happen. On Thursday we avoided all crises, no one was harmed, everyone was safe. Unfortunately, this is a reality that students living in America have to deal with; school is not always a safe place. 

Since Columbine in 1999, there have been 231 school shootings. This does not include misfires and stopped attempts. Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Red Lake, Santa Fe, and Umpqua stand out as particularly fatal and traumatic.

Before Columbine, there was the University of Texas, which ended in eighteen fatalities. In June, 2021, David Keene the former president of the NRA, and John Lott an author and gun rights activist, were asked to speak to the graduating class of James Madison Academy; except there was no class, the mock ceremony had 3,044 empty chairs in place of the students who aren’t graduating due to gun violence. In a buzzfeed article, a change the ref spokesperson said, Ironically, if the men had performed a proper background check on the school, they would have seen that the school is bogus.” Keene and Lott were told they would be speaking to a field of empty chairs because it was only a rehearsal, both of them praised James Madison, a founding father of our country, for proposing the second amendment. After seeing the videos and photos, both men realized they had been dubbed. Lott made a statement to NBC news claiming that the comments he made were taken out of context and were selectively edited.  Gun control advocates and  democrats will fight you tooth and nail.” said John Lott. The gambit was not a ploy to stifle the NRA, but to get them to push stricter gun control laws and universal background checks. 

Help support the lost class by checking out this video from the mock ceremony: https://www.thelostclass.com/thelostclass#thegraduation 

Sign the petition here: 

https://www.thelostclass.com/thelostclass#thepetition 

 

“We miss situations like the school attack in East Greenbush, New York, which only resulted in one injury but had the potential to kill many more if it wasn’t thwarted,” VIgderman and Turner write in “A Timeline of School Shootings Since Columbine”. The word that sticks out here is “potential”. Despite being “safe” on September 16th, the apprehension surrounding the event was heavily present. 

 

There’s a plague on all our houses, and since it doesn’t announce itself with lumps or spots or protest marches, it has gone unremarked in the quiet suburbs and busy cities where it has been laying waste.  The number of suicides and homicides committed by teenagers, most often young men, has exploded in the last three decades, until it has become commonplace to have black-bordered photographs in yearbooks and murder suspects with acne problems. And everyone searches for reasons, and scapegoats, and solutions, most often punitive. Yet one solution continues to elude us, and that is ending the ignorance about mental health, and moving it from the margins of care and into the mainstream where it belongs.Author Anna Quindlen writes, As surely as any vaccine, this would save lives. in The C Word in The Hallways in the Newsweek after reading about psychological autopsies. 

Mental health is a serious topic. In America, mental illness is now getting the recognition it deserves. Sadly, students in America need to look for the signs that someone, maybe even a classmate, can be planning to harm others at school. Check these out to to know the signs: https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/teenagedream/  

Prevent news coverage talking about school shootings like this: 

https://www.theonion.com/police-say-school-shooter-had-troubled-past-history-of-1819594769 

 

What do you do in the event of a drill? Sit, wait, and listen for further instruction. We are sitting ducks, and during drills, most people don’t even take it seriously. It’s a joke, it’s a way to waste class time. We have been taught to not respond to alarms by running, we respond to alarms by sitting and waiting. In Darley and Latane’s smoke-filled room experiment, a group of confederates (people who were in on the experiment) were asked to sit in the room, fill out forms, and show no fear. The naive subject (test subject) was then brought into the room and instructed to also fill out a form, when smoke started pouring into the room, they looked around for anyone else to be concerned, except no one was. A few of the subjects went over to the vent to investigate, some asked the others if the smoke was normal, to which they replied with a shrug.  Only one subject reported the smoke to the experimenter down the hall within the first four minutes, only three reported it within the entire experimental period. The subjects decided how to react based off the social cues of the confederates, not the material evidence before their very eyes. Now, had this been a real fire, everyone in that room would have died of smoke inhalation within the first fifteen minutes or have significant brain damage within the first five minutes. We are sheep, we sit, wait, and listen for further instruction in life threatening situations.  

 

But enough of the facts, let’s see what Livermore High School students have to say when given a stat on school shootings since Columbine and asked if they feel safe at school. It was 180 in the last decade, that’s from 2019.

 

“No.” Says Alyssa Ramon (9) “After hearing that number and seeing how often it happens you just realize this probably isn’t the safest place to be.” 

“To be honest I’ve never really felt safe at school.” Ava Galustian (11) says “Because you see all the police officers- I know that they’re here to protect us which is nice, but then it also makes you think about all the school shootings. I’ve always wondered when I come to school, what’s going to happen, cause there’s always been the rumors, but you’re never sure.” She goes on to say, “Then there’s days when you ask your parents “should I stay home today, should I not?” Then when they send you, you’re on edge all day.” 

“Most of the school shooters know the protocols, so they’re gonna know where we hide when there’s a shooting- our safety protocols are kind of useless at this point.” Tells Ashley Stafford (10)

“So whatever happens, happens.” 

“Yeah I feel safe, there’s gates surrounding the school, there’s security, cameras, everything.” Says Louis Ilan Soto (9)

“Yeah right now I feel safe enough to go here, so it’s not too bad.” Tells Tyrese Quinto (10) 

“Um, it’s a high number, so it is a little concerning.” Christian Fisher (11) goes on to say “Looking past 2019, I have some personal experience with family members who have gone through a shooting recently. It does make me nervous to go to school- I’m sure it is safe here, but it’s kind of in the back of my mind.”  

“Yeah, I’m not inherently afraid to come to school, but like Christian said, it’s still in the back of my mind.”  Avery Bing (12) says,

“When something concerening happens, or there’s a lock down, I’m always concerned. We’ve had threats at this school before, so yeah, I’d say I’m kind of afraid sometimes.” 

 

Bulletproof backpacks, active shooting drills, avoiding the guy who is adamant about exercising the second amendment, escape routes and designated hiding spots set in place in case of a school shooting,  all the reality of attending school in America. After the tear jerking, twelve minute animated film created by Will McCormack and Michael Govier premiered on November 20th, controversy sparked. “…But for many of these young viewers, the feeling is one of genuine catharsis.” Writes Colin Souter in the article, “Short Films in Focus: If Anything Happens, I Love You”. There’s a few scenes that stand out as you watch this short film, one of those scenes being the one in which an American flag is brightly colored despite everything else being gray, the same scene that faded out with gunshots and sirens shortly after. One of the only other times color is used in this very dull palette spectrum, is the flashback scenes the parents are having of their child, viewers suspected that wasn’t an adventitious piece. Without saying a word, the film perfectly depicts what losing a child to gun violence and grieving parents looks like. 

 

To conclude this piece, I would like to set the scene for my readers. “I heard the fire alarm go off, and I looked outside. And I just heard gunshot after gunshot after gunshot after gunshot. Then our teacher told us to get into the closet in the back of the room. And we were locked in there for about three hours, I’d say. And, I mean, the only thing I could do was I texted my parents I love them and that I was sorry for everything I’d had gone through with them.” – Alfonso Calderon 

Imagine if this was you, attending your usual classes, everything is normal; until it isn’t. 

I would also like to encourage everyone to keep our mantra here at Livermore high in your peripheral, if you see something, say something.