Sad but No Longer Surprising: When We Become Numb to the News of School Shootings


Let us dive into the depth of your mind. Think about the last school shooting you can recall. How many can you recall? We can go ahead and assume that maybe you could count them on two hands, if even. Did you know that in the roughly 46 weeks into the year, there were 45 school shootings? That equates to approximately one shooting per week, taking endless innocent lives.
When the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school took place, the nation was shocked. 28 people had been killed from around 9:30 am to 9:40 am, 6 adults and 20 first graders. Upon the news of the incident, many actions were taken place in an effort to reconcile and grieve the many losses. 2012 President Barack Obama took the news to the press and addressed the incident and his condolences to the families, and several memorials were held. Legislators made an effort to begin an action for gun control.
In an article written in 2018 by the New York Times, there has been “at least 239 school shootings nationwide” since the 2012 Sandy Hook incident. As we recall, we can add about 45 more shootings to that since the start of 2019, which is only a rough estimate in itself. Maybe you have kept up with all of the school shootings and maybe you have not. For me personally, I had no idea that this many tragedies had taken place.
During psychology class one day, Mrs. Pfeifer-Ward brought up a thought that sparked my attention. She asked if we could remember how long news and media platforms covered school shootings, spanning from days to weeks. We remembered that during the very beginning, school shootings such as Columbine or Sandy Hook were on television, newspapers, etc for weeks at a time. Now, we only see news of school shootings for a day or two before the media picks up a political incident, especially with the recent impeachment of President Trump. In relation to President Trump, the POTUS gave a speech in Louisiana following the school shooting at Saugus High School in California and did not address the shooting at all during his speech.. President Trump later tweeted his condolences to the families affected.
In truth, it seems that school shootings have no longer become shocking to us. We teach our students to be prepared for these awful events. We expect them to happen. We prepare for the fear of dying in a place where we go to learn everyday. Students spend time during class barricading doors with desks and bookshelves or running to a nearby shelter to escape from a potential danger. Teachers train during the summer mocking real life scenarios of intruders. In the past, students did not go to school and wonder if they would leave alive. Parents did not wave goodbye to their children as they got on the school bus not knowing if that would be their last goodbye. In the words of Scott Simon, an NPR writer, “school shootings are sad but no longer surprising.”