Growing concerns over gun violence in schools

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Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, at least 330,000 students have been on campus during a school shooting, as reported by the Washington Post. As of late March, there have been 13 school shootings that resulted in injury or death, as reported by Education Week. Most recently, an attack at the Covenant elementary school in Nashville killed six. 

After the tragedy at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in October (CVPA) in October 2022, St. Louis-area students are left more unsettled following years of the growing epidemic of gun violence in the country.

“We had at least two or three security guards in the building, and every time we would enter, they would have us take our backpacks off and go through a metal detector. They would check our bags, so that’s why it came as a really big shock that a gun was able to even enter into the building,” said Karla Vasques-Mejia, a former student of Cleveland High School, which shared buildings with CVPA. 

Students are not the only ones in distress: teachers, too, are adjusting. New safety protocols, such as A.L.I.C.E, address active shooter preparedness. 

“I want to appear in control. I let them know that every teacher in the school knows what to do in case of emergency and [that] ‘you will be safe.’ Will they be safe? I hope so,” said elementary school teacher Camille Falconnier. 

As this phenomenon is relatively new to this generation of students, previous generations are shocked by the prevalence of drills to prepare for the unthinkable.

In an unstable environment, some students think the system itself should adapt.

“If you’re going to have a state that encourages liberty and freedom, you should respect people’s freedoms to not engage with systems where they feel unsafe,” student Brandon Just said.

In hopes of preventing more attacks, schools and parents have increased conversations about mental health and preventing violence. According to the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Secret Service, in four out of five school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the perpetrator’s plan. 

Webster University’s active shooter protocols can be found on the university website

Webster’s director of Public Relations, Patrick Giblin, said that a routine review of policies was held promptly after the Michigan State shooting, and the university emphasizes the importance of conversations about safety and prevention. 

Giblin said Webster has required key-card entry to all buildings since the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly cut down on the number of unauthorized people on campus and decreased theft.

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Lauren Brennecke
News Editor | + posts