Cape Girardeau; Missouri — Most people spend about 12 years in school from the time they’re in kindergarten to their senior year of high school. Many say that the time period is full of the greatest times of your life. You have no worries. No rent, no bills, no job, just fun.
But what happens when you have to worry about your safety every time you step foot into school? What happens when you have to learn lockdown drills in case an intruder comes into your classroom? It creates an uneasy feeling that can manifest into anxiety.
Like most, 12-year-old David Jones had his school year cut short by the pandemic and he had become accustomed to school online. Being in the comfort of his own home while doing classes made him feel safer, something he enjoyed. The thought of returning to school had become overwhelming and the feeling crept into his everyday life.
“Going to the grocery store makes me anxious. I always feel like I have to watch my back,” the Baltimore native said. He added that the feeling doesn’t change when at school. “Sitting in the corner of the room in a huddle doesn’t seem safe to me.”
A Pew Research study conducted in 2018, showed 57% of teens are worried about the possibility of a school shooting occurring. Over half of the students surveyed carried that anxiety with them every day.
With the 28th school shooting this year happening at Oxford High School in Michigan, there is a heartbreaking reminder of the potential for it to occur again at another school.
According to Education Week, this shooting was the deadliest since 2018. A worry students have to take into account five days a week, if not more. We expect children to put 100% into their academics and be focused in the classroom when they aren’t even sure they’ll return home. School is difficult enough with the fear of failing, the urge to fit in and the bullying some students face. But none of that compares to the amount of worry about their life or their peers' lives being taken while learning.
When school started in the late summer, Jones learned there were new procedures in place. Their classes are being held in trailers currently which means there are now new options in case of an active shooting.
One is ALICE — Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — an active shooter training for schools. Another is the ability to run to the park behind his school. Those options have eased his anxiety a bit and allowed him to feel more comfortable at school although the underlying fear remains.