A Tragic New Normal in Schools

Shelter in place, lockdown, secure classroom, and any number of other active-threat-on-campus drills. They are all frequently practiced in schools these days. Sadly, such drills are part of children’s school experiences along with all of the other lessons that students learn from their teachers and friends. There is no avoiding it: students also have to learn what to do if their class becomes a target like the ones in Texas, Florida, Colorado, Washington, and Connecticut, and far too many other schools that don’t make the national headlines.

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According to CNN, there have been twenty-two school shootings in the first twenty weeks of 2018. It’s no surprise that we’ve become accustomed to news of such violence. And for a few weeks afterward, we hear political leaders make promises for greater gun control. Florida took some important steps in gun legislation since February, but far too little has been done on a federal level. And over time, the topic fades out of the media’s spotlight until the next tragedy in a school. 

For many of us who work in schools, there is little doubt new legislation is needed. But those changes, even if they are all implemented tomorrow, would take time to limit access and reduce gun violence in our country. More immediately, schools have to come to terms that this is the new reality children face and now many students are conditioned to expect the worst. A student at Santa Fe High School in Texas said the killings didn’t surprise her because, “It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always kind of felt eventually it was going to happen here, too.”

It’s tragic that so many people have lost their lives in environments that should be completely safe. And it is heartbreaking that living with this threat is the new normal for this generation of students—one that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.           

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