18, 46, 377, and 349,000, 200. Those may seem like random numbers to you but those are the numbers that make me not want to go to school anymore.
18, the number of school shootings in 2023 as of April 6.
46, the number of school shootings in 2022.
377, how many school shootings there have been since 1999.
349,000, the number of children that have experienced gun violence since Columbine.
And 200, over 200 kids that were murdered in school shootings.
Every day one in 12 kids die from gun violence and gun violence is the leading cause of death for people age 19 or younger.
As a junior in high school, I look at these numbers and know that any day, I could become a part of it. Just another statistic. I have to look at these numbers and then go to school. I look at these numbers and know that they have only grown exponentially year after year. I look at these numbers and wonder why nobody is screaming for it to stop.
After any school shootings since I started my time in high school in the fall of 2020, neither of the two schools I have attended have said anything to the students. It is “just another school shooting.” I and so many of my fellow students and teachers have become numb to it. It has been so normalized with us and has been a part of our lives since we’ve started pre-school. There has not been a single year since I was born, where a child did not die in a school building from a shooting.
The U.S. literally has more guns than people, with roughly 120 guns per 100 people. That is more than three times the next highest country, Canada, which has roughly 38 guns per 100 people. According to the National Gun Archive, there have been 145 mass shootings in the United States in 2023 — more than the number of days.
When I have conversations with adults, the mental health of my generation often comes up. Questions or comments about why Generation Z is so depressed or why we have so much anxiety are the most common. One of the reasons, two words: school shootings. It’s the trauma that comes with going into a building to learn knowing that kids who were doing the same thing somewhere else in the country are now dead. That stuff is traumatizing. You never know who is next. It might be you, it might not.
Kids in school systems with active shooter drills that happen monthly might experience up to 130 active shooter drills in their time in a K-12 system. There has never been a year for me without having to silently go hide in a corner. In middle school, they would have our security officers go around and bang and kick the doors while screaming let me in, to see if we would stay quiet. There are school districts in our country that perform “live” drills where they will have students pretend to have been shot and have them lie in the hallways. Students will then be evacuated by real police and SWAT teams. They then walk by their classmates and see them “dead” on the ground. Those images will stick with those kids their entire lives.
How is the state going to make sure that their students, their children aren’t the next ones? How is the state going to make sure that I don’t leave the system more traumatized than I already am from actions? How is the state going to make sure that I can hold my diploma?
Maebel Haynes is a Junior at Litchfield High School.