Once again, America is reeling after a tragic school shooting.
As the Washington Post reports, the attack in Florida is already the seventh this year. That’s more than one per week. Since 2000, there have been 130 shootings in schools across the country.
Sadly, school shootings have become a part of American life.
That’s why nearly every school in the country spends significant time and resources on planning and training for active shooter situations. According to Broward County School District superintendent Robert Runcie, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School–where this week’s shooting occurred–was no different. We saw evidence of that in the seemingly calm and ordered way in which students evacuated the school–in straight lines and with their hands high in the air.
Physical and strategic preparation is critical in any school safety plan. But, there’s no way for schools to prepare students, parents, staff, and others for the mental and emotional toll tragedies such as this take on their communities.
While there’s more awareness around the possibility of school shootings, those who haven’t experienced such events or shared a connection with them still find it hard to imagine that it could happen in their communities.
Until it does.
Following the Florida shooting, Runcie expressed a similar sentiment. “It’s something that I know could happen,” he told Education Week, “but never thought I would see it here in Broward County.”
Runcie went on to sum up the hopeless tragedy of school violence and emphasized the need for all schools and communities to stay vigilant. As we reflect on the lives lost this week, as part of another senseless tragedy in our schools, his words serve as an important reminder of the role that school leaders play in keeping students safe:
“Nothing-nothing in the world-is going to stop somebody who wants to create mass tragedies like this. All we can do is minimize it, and that’s what the training does. You do the best that you can. You prepare as much as possible, but as much as you prepare there is no preparation that is going to create a 100-percent level of safety. No parent should ever, ever have to wake up, send their kid off to school as a normal day, and that kid never comes home again. There are no words that can describe the heartache, the loss, the suffering. It’s going to be a long time before we can recover from this as a community. It’s shaken me, and everyone I know, to the core.”
What conversations are you having with your school community in the wake of the Florida tragedy? Tell us in the comments.