As school shootings continue to break headlines, we haven't known quite what to say.
We've mourned. We've questioned. We've fought over politics. We've felt the need to protect our kids—and our rights.
For not knowing quite what to say, we've certainly talked enough.
Maybe, it's time we do some listening.
West Michigan Woman thanks Ella Meloche, a sophomore at Forest Hills Eastern High School, for offering her thoughts on school shootings and the need to open our minds and hearts to others.
Fear does not belong in a school.
As a high school student, it is frightening to know that school shootings happen quite frequently now. I personally think that this is brought upon by mental health; no one in the right state of mind would want to take the lives of innocent children.
The thought of someone walking into my school to shoot fellow students and faculty members is terrifying. On February 14, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, it was proven that it was a very real possibility that any of us could die in school. This person had 39 calls about him to the local police station; most everyone at school was afraid of this because of his erratic behavior. On March 2, at Central Michigan University, a student shot his parents. He had just been released from counseling for unpredictable patterns.
It hurts me to think about the damage that one person can do to scar so many lives.
When I first heard about these incidents, I was in shock. The thought that it could maybe be our school next; the thought of losing someone close to me; the thought of it being me. School should be a place where we come to learn and grow as humans, not a place that we fear.
It is really upsetting to know some people are so mad or have mental illness, to want to put families and friends through all of that misery. I could not imagine how mentally ill one must be to want to hurt other people, rather than getting help.
If you or someone you know has thoughts about hurting others or themselves, I believe it is morally right to reach out and get help, rather than causing heartache for others. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are my age. The fact that they are going through endless pain and emotional damage is not right. I understand, mentally, people go crazy. But I never thought that a student that attended the high school would actually do that to people they spent their whole lives with. That is the part that is most shocking to me.
I am sure parents cannot imagine sending their child off to school and having them never coming home, never seeing them again. You never get to see your granddaughter or grandson again. Never seeing your best friend. Never seeing your brother or sister. It is a sickening thought.
I do not think gun rights should be taken away, but I don't think that somebody should be able to walk in and buy an AR-15 at the age of 18. There should be stronger requirements, especially mental stability testing. It is not the gun; it is the person. I definitely don't think it should be possible to walk into a school with that type of weapon. We need to train our teachers and students on staying safe: "Run, Hide, Fight" is the new safety measure for lockdowns in school.
The thought of running, hiding or fighting for my life used to seem scary. Now, it seems necessary.
I believe that everyone needs to be a friend, everyone should try to make someone's day, everyone should make people feel like they can talk about their problems. Maybe we as students need to be more willing to talk to the teachers and counselors—to be more open to talk about your feelings. Maybe we also get away from our technology and open our minds and hearts to people who are in need.
High school should be a step toward success, a place to make friends, a place for many good memories. We all need to ensure the mental stability of our peers and loved ones; otherwise, we never know what could happen next.
Thank you, Ella.
UNDERSTANDING YOUTH: RESOURCES
Students and families will continue to be in our thoughts as we work to restore schools to places where young people learn and grow as humans, not places they fear.
Part of that involves listening to the children and teens in your life. Consider these resources to help you understand the problems young people face—and how to help.