By Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald
Please don’t think teenagers aren’t attuned to what’s happening in our nation.
When asked about the mass shooting Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 16 journalism students from Holy Rosary High School in New Orleans were informed and had much to say about how safe they consider their campus and what they might do if a similar incident happened at their school.
“This has been sad and unbelievable,” said Maddie Zimmer, reflecting on her reaction after viewing social media about the incident. “I hate to have people go through this kind of stuff or feel this way.”
“No one was prepared for this on Valentine’s Day, because Valentine’s Day is usually a day of love,” said senior Alex Lugo. “Those children did not deserve this. Those children who survived are traumatized and now are involved in the gun issue.”
Lugo identified with how surviving students are rallying the media and government to change gun laws.
“They are expressing something, they are doing actions that are greater than words can describe,” Lugo said. “I say to them, they should keep doing it. And, hopefully, there will be a bill on this, and they will make it a new law on gun safety.”
Could happen anywhere
Most Holy Rosary students said they felt safe on campus because at their small high school, teachers are caring, the school is gated and visitors gain admission through a buzzer system.
“We have a small school, so everyone knows each other pretty well and would know if something was wrong,” student Shaun-Isaac Layne-Chee said.
And, having a Catholic religion class that discusses social justice, respect and treating others as they would want to be treated also creates a camaraderie among students and teachers, which lessens the chance of violence.
“Love yourself and your friends, and you can even love your enemies,” said Zimmer. “It means you can respect them and don’t get on their bad side, and if they do something mean to you, don’t do anything to anyone back.”
“If you respect people for what they say, and if you don’t say mean and harmful things, that might help and prevent people from doing wrong things,” Hannah LeBeaux said.
Yet, the school shooting in Florida made several uneasy.
“Even if it’s happening where you don’t live, you may still feel unsafe,” Zimmer said. “You never know
if it could happen in your own hometown. This world is kind of a crazy place to live in – full of crazy people.”
Their plan of action
When asked about their response to a school shooting or hint of violence from a social media post, most Holy Rosary students’ initial reactions would be to call the police, tell their parents or teachers, warn others of a possible threat or even try to convince the person who posted the message to back down.
“If I saw something I would tell them, ‘Why are you doing this? It’s very wrong,’” Martin Lee said.
“I would take charge and organize a rally on gun control and petition for a law to be put in place so that there is gun control and heavy restrictions on people owning guns – all guns,” Zimmer said, suggesting she might even consider the rescinding America’s second amendment in the Constitution to bear arms because “I am getting very suspicious on how people are managing guns along with the violence involving guns.”
Students such as Matthew Diehl recommended additional safety measures – having a security guard or policeman on campus all the time, possibly installing a metal detector and repairing possible gaps in the security fence on the perimeter. However, senior Samuel Picnot said some students might view metal detectors as profiling.
Picnot thought non-enforcement of existing laws, lax background checks and unchecked FBI tips were contributing factors in the school shooting.
“The kid that did the shooting bought the rifles legally, but I heard the FBI did a check on him and disregarded it. … The people who did the background check on him messed up as well,” Picnot said. “The system was fine but not enforced.”
He said a better background check might have prevented the gun from getting into the shooter’s hands.
Overall, these future engineers, car mechanics and teachers felt relatively safe on campus, but several leaned toward changing laws on automatic assault rifles.
“If somebody is wearing a rifle across their chest, I don’t think they should be able to walk around with that at all times,” LeBeaux said. “I don’t think it is safe.”
High schools interested in bringing students to take a tour of the Clarion Herald can call Christine Bordelon at 596-3030.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.