Student desensitivity towards gun violence

Eleni Tecos ’22

After the recent events that have taken place in our home state, anxiety among students regarding gun violence has heightened. The following days after the shooting at Oxford High School on November 30,schools in Oakland, Genesee, and Wayne Counties shut down for a few days due to an “abundance of caution,” according to NBC News. As a result of these shutdowns, students are finding ways to keep this “trend” of school shootings alive by proposing fake threats directed towards their own schools. To put things into perspective, students from the Grosse Pointe Public School System were removed from school because they directed fabricated threats towards their own schools with suggested acts of violence. School is supposed to be a safe environment for all students and faculty members, but with all the proposed threats coming into play, it makes feeling comfortable at school a little less easy.

At a time like this, it’s the students’ voices that should be the ones truly heard. They are the ones who have to cope with this anxiety over whether or not they’ll be coming home that day, or if they’ll get to see their friends just one more time. After the Oxford shooting, students are more on edge than ever. The “jokes” that have been made towards Oxford have been unfortunately very present, creating a sense of discomfort for the rest of the student body. The lack of care and appreciation for the community has been relevant for some students, for they are the ones creating this desensitivity towards gun violence.

“I find it truly horrible and disrespectful that my own classmates think that school shootings in general, and specifically the Oxford shooting are considered comical,” Natalie Clarke ’23 said. “I guess it hit closer to home for me because I have family and friends that attend Oxford High School, so I’m a bit more sensitive to all the comments going around, but still I think that kids are treating this intense issue as a joke which is sickening.”

Like Clarke, English teacher Sandra McCue also had a close family member that attended Oxford High School. Hearing the news deeply affected McCue and she said it hit close to home.

“This doesn’t happen often but I felt like it was hard to move my emotions and I was upset because I have a cousin who goes to Oxford High School,” McCue said. “The first day after the incident, I didn’t feel I could talk about it to my students. I am also concerned if there were to be a real-life situation what would be the procedures that take place.”

She was also concerned if there were to be a real life situation, what the procedures would bee, and the amount of information that gets out to peers. She feels no one should be pressured to talk about the situation, due to privacy issues a student may have or be feeling.

“A lot of times I don’t always know what everybody else knows (about) dealing with privacy issues,” McCue said. “The school continues to work on helping students with finding out information. And if a student is having a difficult time we can assume they know about the whole situation,and we need to be able to be there for them.”
About two weeks ago, school was cancelled on Friday, December 3, due to threatening comments made to South and other schools in the Grosse Pointe Public School System Found on social media, a student made a direct comment towards South saying, “Don’t go to South tomorrow, shooting at 10:45 A.M,” from an anonymous source. According to Mayo Clinic, more than 76 percent of teenagers use social media and of that percent, 24 are on social media constantly. Social media is one of the many attainable resources for teenagers to use when spreading information, whether it be true or false, which can cause severe problems in regards to mental health.

“I think social media is where a lot of these problems are forming in terms of threats about gun violence,” Clarke said. “Students definitely take advantage of social media platforms and use that to spread insensitive comments, specifically about school shootings, which makes me realize how often kids abuse social media.In general, I think social media is horrible for us teenagers because it gives kids the opportunity to hide behind a screen and make unnecessarily hurtful comments.”

To provide assistance for the students struggling to cope with the desensitivity regarding gun violence, the counseling center at South tries to be that resource for everyone. Creating a comforting and safe environment is the number one priority for counselors, and their work into supplying students with the right mental health resources should be appreciated. Although the counseling center is a phenomenal resource for students who are struggling, the real mental work starts at home with parents. Allowing parents to talk through the threats being made, and about gun violence in general, can really help calm the nerves of students who want to seek help from their counselor.

“Mental health is something that is very relevant and has always been very relevant,” counselor Troy. Glasser said. “We’ve definitely tried to prioritize mental health over anything right now especially, but students need to come to school prepared to learn, and for as hard as it may be, put fear aside, but they should know that we are a resource for them whenever they need assistance.”

An issue right now is deciding whether or not to instill more mental health resources, or take physical action to supply more of a solution to the desensitization surrounding gun violence. From a physical standpoint, there has been talk about inserting metal detectors throughout the building to ensure the safety of all students and prevent any dangerous actions from happening,which has caused controversy. As far as mental health goes, making sure students try to have a positive mindset when coming into school is crucial to feeling more safe in the school environment. Both “solutions” have been frequently discussed among the entire school, as well as the Grosse Pointe community.

“After working in a high school in Chicago,it was definitely an interesting transition going from the big city life to a more relaxed community like Grosse Pointe,” Glasser said. “At the Chicago school, it was considered normal to have metal detectors in every doorway because of how lively that city was and all the action that goes on within it.Grosse Pointe, being the family community that it is, it’s a little difficult to comprehend the fact that we might have to take such an extreme approach to provide some sort of a solution to violence.”

Getting a student point of view about this matter is one of the most important things when determining a solution to a constant problem like gun violence. Students are the ones who are continually having to cope with all the problems erupting on social media, their own stress towards the issue, and their mental health in general, so giving the people who are most affected by this issue a voice is crucial.

“I know that teenage boys’ mental health is a pretty overlooked thing, but I’m really hoping with everything going on, more awareness is spread to everyone of all ages,” Matthew Zrimec ’23 said. “For me, I try to stuff my problems down so I don’t have to deal with them, but now I’ve realized how important it is to talk about mental health issues with people you’re comfortable with.”

Social studies teacher Andrew Taylor also had his perspective, saying he feels the issue should be stopped before the gun is in possession of the victim.

“From a Washington Poststudy I found, it said since 2002 half of school shootings were guns that were accessed easily,” Taylor said. “How do we make the culture of locking up guns for everyone?”

Talyor also says mental health for the students is crucial to keeping everyone calm, and aware because some students may not know every detail of the issue.

“It’s hard to know which kids are concerned and which aren’t and I don’t want to bring anything so that kids don’t get upset,” Taylor said. “I want to talk about the topic but I don’t want to stress them out at the same time .We should build relationships with students menatly. We are empowered to slow down to build relationships with students to help with their mental health and issues on such a sensitive topic.”

With having kids of his own that attend South,he’s very comfortable with them attending here as he knows the school and the community is a very safe place.

“It’s a thousand percent safe here at South,” Taylor said. “I’m not concerned about what (the school) is doing to keep everyone safe.”