Yesterday afternoon on February 14th 2018, at least 17 students and adults were mercilessly killed and another 18 injured by a former student of their own high school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. According to CNN, this mass shooting was the tenth deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, and, according to NBC, the deadliest school shooting since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
In the first 45 days of 2018 there have been 18 school shootings. This means that 40% of the days this year have had a school shooting. This statistic is baffling and alarming; something must be done to combat this senseless violence.
Just a few weeks ago, I was babysitting children under the age of seven when they asked to play make-believe school. The game began as any make-believe game with a teacher and students in a class, and suddenly one of the children announced that it was time for a lockdown drill in our make-believe school. They turned off the lights and decided we must sit against the wall; one child took on the role of the teacher and asked us to nod our heads if we liked apples, and we continued nodding to a variety of questions. Shocked, but clearly unable to express it, I simply went along with this make-believe nightmare that the children did not realize was an imitation of a drill to prevent a tragedy. Finally, this “lockdown drill” was over, the lights turned back on, and we went back to playing.
Where is the light when there have been 18 school shootings in 45 days? What light is being shed on the root of this violence? The light is missing, the urgency is lacking – one school shooting and one child who has to witness a tragedy like this is one too many, yet we watch, we pray, we think, and then we hear again that another school shooting has occurred.
The school shootings make headlines. The school shootings jar readers for a moment, perhaps provoking tears, or sadness, and then soon the headlines fade to the next newest story. How are school shootings fading into the background of our society? It is each and every one of our responsibilities to make sure that school shootings NEVER become a norm in our society.
This issue needs to be addressed now; those 18 school shootings that have occured in the first 45 days of 2018 more than doubles the 7 school shootings that occured in the first 45 days of 2017. I am writing this today because no matter your political affiliations, it is on all of us to advocate for our own versions of the solution to this epidemic. Blame and disagreement do not save lives, advocacy and action do.
It is time to turn on the lights, turn our prayer into action, and fight for change. School shootings are incomprehensibly cruel tragedies, and we all must work together to find a solution before it is too late for yet another community, another school, another parent, and another child.