I Want to Live.
Sheera Wang, Division 2, 10th grade #ws18e-s3d2

The United States has always been a center of controversy, whether it be the recent election or the current trade war with China. But behind the politics, one of the most concerning problems that we face today is right here in our own towns; the safety of our children. Since Columbine, the Washington Post stresses that there have been more than 215,000 students who have personally experienced gun violence, with the number only increasing as more school shootings enter the headlines. From Stoneman Douglas’ tragedy to the one that hit home in Santa Fe, the issue of guns within schools has become a prominent topic. This brings into question our second amendment rights, which do not exist in other foreign countries such as China and South Korea, who seem to never face such a deadly issue. But I don’t believe taking away the amendment is going to solve the problem, and I don’t think it comes down to which political party a person is in. Rather, it questions the security of an individual school.

When I first thought of improving my education, I was originally going to mention how I wanted to enhance my school’s academic system. But, when the first day of school arrived, a chill went down my spine. It wasn’t because of the upcoming academic pressure. Instead, it was fear for my life. A couple of weeks before school had started, I had participated in a protest, “March for Our Lives”, where students ranging from elementary school to high school banded together to fight for safer schools. I had heard the stories of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, and felt wrenching horror tear through their words.

Now, I will concede that there have been drills that have always existed. But, will these drills really work? Squatting in the corner of the classroom and relying on the lottery game of “will he come?” will just be another instance of sitting ducks waiting to be hunted. New drills should be established that can ensure a safer environment. The school announcement isn’t going to make my class serious, too many of my fellow students decide to goof off, knowing that it isn’t an actual shooting. But what if this happens… and it’s an actual shooter? The ALICE Institute establishes a real scenario and offers full on extensive training for mass shootings. But, knowing that this may be expensive, there are other alternative options, such as fighting back. My school system has never told us to fight back, only hide. Hide from the shooter, hope for the best. If a shooter comes in? We don’t know how to respond, we will not know how to protect ourselves. And through that one fatal mistake that can be easily resolved through a couple of amendments, schools risk their own students’ lives.

Schools can also make a system to regulate the moods of the students through anonymous messages. They should post a QR code throughout the school that will be send reports directly to police enforcement. Those who believe their friends may be unstable or potentially harmful to themselves or others can send concerned messages without risking their friendship with that person. This simple system may be the key for adults to finally delve into a teenager’s mind and face the problem without having to assume that it is just hormones or school pressure. Going hand in hand with this, many have argued that mental health has been a primary source of gun violence. Though the best solution is through official legislation to prevent those who are deemed as mentally unhealthy from attaining a firearm, from a student’s point of view, I would focus primarily on how I would change my own school. This can be achieved through a better counseling system, one that allows students to foster a comfortable relationship between themselves and their counselor. Counselors should talk casually with students instead of radiating a sense of “teacher dominance”, where many may feel intimidated to approach them.

Though many may believe that gun violence is only an issue in high school and college, they do not recognize the power of a child’s pure naiveness. On July 2nd in Saucier, Minnesota, a six-year-old was hospitalized after accidentally being shot by his eight-year-old brother. What’s to say that a child may bring a “toy” weapon into school and pull the trigger-- unaware of the violence pursuing the shot. Teachers and staff should implement bag checks and a stricter rule of “no plastic toy weapons” to make sure that an innocent child’s life will not be at a threat. During recess, students should only bring out toys that have been investigated by their teachers to make sure that it will bring no harm. If the expenses allow, schools may also consider the possibility of implementing metal detectors to fully ensure a safe environment.

If schools can stress the costs of bringing a gun to school, of shooting down possible students, of killing for the sake of personal release, then I would feel much safer once I enter my school’s doors, knowing that a gun is not pointed to the back of my head. All I ask for is a change that can improve my school’s security and establish a safer environment not only for my class, but the future generations that are soon to come. In order to make sure this happens, I will persevere and fight for the safety of my fellow students. To make a better change in my school, I am willing to stand upon the podium and face my school board to demand a change. Throughout the US, students have finally given up on adults to demand for safer schools. And I believe it’s finally time for my generation to become independent from our parents and fight for our lives. Together, we have the potential to change America’s educational system in the midst of a world filled with ever growing violence.
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