Opinion: Social media needlessly scares students

Javen Oswald, Opinions Editor

On Feb 22. an intruder entered Granger Middle School in Aurora, Illinois. The school was put into lockdown and followed ALICE protocol. No weapon was found when the intruder was arrested.  

The incident will leave an emotional impact on everyone in the school. It’s sad this act of hate happened so close to home. But we are lucky the intruder was stopped before anyone was injured.

This was mere weeks after Naperville Central had a threat of our own.

Standing in the hall at the beginning of third period when the announcement  pertaining to the threat concluded, I could hear the comments the other students were making.  

“Just another day in America.”

I was appalled. Is this reality? Are school threats normalized to this extent? 

On social media, you’d be led to believe that there is a school shooting in the U.S. every day. You would see videos of American schools practicing intruder drills. Scrolling through the comments, you’d see people discussing how dystopian the U.S. has become.

According to the Washington Post, since Columbine, there have been 366 school shootings. This is 57 times the number of shootings compared to other countries, as stated by a CNN article. 

Despite these facts, people don’t understand how low the chances of experiencing a school shooting actually are. There are 115,576 schools in the U.S., including K-12 schools, private schools and colleges. This means the chances of living through a school shooting throughout the past 24 years was 0.29%.

People making jokes criticizing the U.S.’s ability to handle gun violence in school is the direct result of young people being less inclined to listen to those in power. You can take this as the pushback to blind allegiance, positive or negative, but it certainly has impacted how the U.S. is viewed when it comes to school shootings. 

In an age where nationalism is less common among the youth, rather than defending everything that happens in the U.S. many students have leaned into the satire around school shootings in our country. Take for example the students around me when I heard the announcement regarding the threat. They were being ironic regarding the state of the U.S. 

So where do students get this belief from? Social media pumps out this rhetoric that school shootings are inevitable.

Let me make myself very clear. They aren’t.

They’re actually nearly impossible. The truth is, the chances a given student will be a victim of a school shooting are slim to none. 

The comments I overheard are simply an illustration of how students are coping with a situation. We socialized more through social media than other aspects of our lives. We are led to believe school shootings are everywhere. Joking about the threat is a way to cope with fear and projecting the sadness of their perception.

The situation at Granger Middle School is deeply saddening and reminds us that though school shootings are highly unlikely, this doesn’t make the political issue surrounding them any less pressing. Action is necessary. But fear-mongering students isn’t the answer.