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Shootings: Florida students can lead us from apathy

Inside Glenwood Senior High School, Glenwood, Iowa. (Garret Reich/YJI)

Glenwood, Iowa, U.S.A. – We had yet another horrific school shooting last month, this time at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. That makes at least six this year.
But I’ve noticed something unsettling in my remote and placid school that certainly woke me up.
In my fellow classmates, I have witnessed no resistance or anger towards shootings that are happening on the other side of the country. Instead, I find myself sitting among kids who are comfortable in their lives. State basketball is the thing on everyone’s minds right now. We’re all trying to balance factors in our lives – new and old – that are only growing: jobs, sports, parents, and the looming presence of college.
Even I, eager to attend a university with students passionate about paramount issues, find myself growing steadily accustomed to national events that should knock me off my feet.
Our country’s most recent mass killing at a high school in Parkland, Florida almost didn’t faze me.
This attitude should scare our country. In a public school, 17 people – mostly students – were shot to death, and more were injured.
Mass shootings like this should not be a customary event. They do not deserve a place in the history books as a statistic alone.
Thankfully, throughout the country, people are advocating for change. It is enlightening and inspiring to see the activism for common sense gun control igniting fires in the hearts of thousands across the country.
Where once there were half-hearted prayers and regrets, there is a new burning determination for change.
Yet this state of mind does not appear to be reaching people where I live. Instead, many teenagers and adults hardly seem to have found the shooting discomforting.
Instead of further cultivating this complacency, we all need to take an active part in changing our mindsets. An event like this, regardless of how far away the problem is geographically from our homes, affects us all.
It is the responsibility of our country as a whole to institute change.
It doesn’t take much. The students of Marjory Stoneman have already made it easier to get involved. By speaking out, they have created a snowball capable of initiating true change.
At a February rally in Tallahassee, Florida, Tanzil Philip, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman, spoke directly to the NRA in a speech.
“We are not afraid of you, we will not be silenced by anything you have to say,” said Philip. “We are here, our voices are loud, and we’re not stopping until change happens.”
Other calls to action by the Marjory Stoneman students have inspired a “National School Walkout” on March 14th and a “March for Our Lives” on March 24th.
In an emotional address at the Tallahassee rally, senior Delaney Tarr said, “This movement, created by students, led by students, is based on emotion … we have nothing to lose. The only thing we have to gain at this point is our safety.”
As we look to the future, the only thing we have to do – to even come close of justifying the lives of the teenagers and students lost – is keep the ball of change rolling.

Garret Reich is a Correspondent for Youth Journalism International.

Want to read more? Here are the voices of YJI students worldwide since the Parkland, Florida mass shooting.

We were fine until the fire alarm went off, By Christine O’Hara, Alexandria, Virginia, USA, March 10, 2018

Gun violence is not about one nation, but human lives, By Amber Shakil, Lahore, Pakistan, March 8, 2018

Why won’t Americans put an end to mass shootings? By Alyce Collett, Melbourne, Australia, March 5, 2018

Students deserve respect, not punishment, for walkout, by Luke Ashworth, Bristol, Connecticut, USA, March 5, 2018

Millenials take aim at guns, by Sean Monteith, Lewiston, Maine, USA, March 4, 2018

I want to be a teacher, but I won’t carry a gun, By Sydney Hallett, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, Feb. 27, 2018

Arming teachers might help, By Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan, Singaporem Feb. 25, 2018

Parkland echoes the massacre that ended UK school shootings, By Owen Ferguson, Doune, Scotland, UK, Feb. 23, 2018