An increasing trend in school shootings has students and staff preparing for any and all possibilities.

By: Ally Melnik & Katie Chong

School shooting incidents have been increasing exponentially in the United States over the past five years. According to the database, EveryTown Research for Gun Safety, there have been “160 qualifying incidents, including fatal and nonfatal assaults, suicides, and unintentional shootings” in schools.

These incidents have been hitting closer to home with one of the most recent involving a local student. As the Columbus Dispatch states, a minor was recently arrested and charged with a count of conspiracy to commit murder at Hilliard Davidson High School, just under ten miles away from UAHS.

Recent school shootings have prompted policy changes around the country and also in UAHS. School shootings are now in the immediate attention of administrators from recent rumors being spread and lockdown drills being instated.

Each year, students are being put in harm’s way and their safety is being jeopardized across the nation. As EveryTown states, “gunfire in schools and at colleges and universities undermines the sense of security that all students should have in their learning environments.”

Shootings in K-12 Schools (2013-2015)

Image courtesy of EveryTown Research for Gun Safety

Image courtesy of EveryTown Research for Gun Safety

EveryTown conducted research on the number of nationwide school shootings between 2013 and 2015 due to the increased frequency of school shootings. The research shows that the frequency of shootings in schools is concentrated in high and elementary schools.

Incidents by State (1990-present)

Data courtesy of Ballotpedia

Where EveryTown data shows all the incidents where a gun goes off—attempted shootings, suicides, etc.—Ballotpedia shows all the incidents that have been classified as a mass school shooting from 1990 to the present day. The difference of data helps clarify the increasing trend of mass shootings and how large the magnitude of the problem is.

hdhs-building

Exterior of Hilliard Davidson High School. Image courtesy of the Belden Brick Company

The recent Hilliard Davidson incident has affected UAHS students due to the proximity of the event. Some students have friends or family in the Hilliard school district and felt the horrors at the thought of someone wanting to intentionally harm students first-hand. This caused UAHS students to become more concerned about their surroundings and what could happen within them.

“It definitely made it feel closer to home because the other [shootings] were thousands of miles away, but this makes you realize that that kind of thing could happen here too,” UAHS junior Catherine Powell said.

Were you aware that a Hilliard Davidson sophomore is being charged with planning a mass shooting?

Survey conducted by Katie Chong & Ally Melnik

About 80% of UAHS students that took the School Safety Survey had heard about the Hilliard incident, demonstrating how fast information and rumors can spread within a community.

“[The Hilliard Davidson incident] was a legitimate threat, and it really hit close to home. And I think that had a lot to do with the rumors that got worked up the following week or so. And after that, I think, people started asking questions, well ‘could this happen to us?'” said Officer Jon Rice, the school resource officer at UAHS.

Did you hear rumors in October 2016 regarding safety concerns at UAHS?

Survey conducted by Katie Chong & Ally Melnik

In the same School Safety Survey, around 97% of the respondents had heard the rumors about UAHS safety concerns. Since the rumor was so serious, it made most of the student body panic.

“I had students come to me with tears in their eyes, saying ‘What’s going on? I’m hearing this and that,’ and I had to reassure people and say, ‘Look, I’ve been in this investigation from start to finish, and I can assure you that none of that is true,'” said Rice.

Different Safety Precautions

Survey conducted by Katie Chong & Ally Melnik

Given various precautions that could potentially make the school a more secure learning environment, students chose which ones they would like to see implemented. From the responses, 30% of students wanted to practice various levels of lockdowns more frequently while 20% of students wanted to change the way the classroom doors open so it would open inwards (DISCLAIMER: We realize this is a fire code violation, but if it weren’t, people would like this to happen). Other popular suggestions were to enforce the locked classroom door policy, have random locker checks, and use the student IDs as key cards at entrances.

uahs-sign

Exterior of UAHS. Image courtesy of Upper Arlington Football

Strong student opinions about the possibility of a school shooting have prompted the administrative staff at UAHS to take measures to supplement previous preventative instructions for emergency situations.

On November 3rd, the administration blocked off class time for teachers to talk to their students about safety procedures should an active shooter situation happen during the school day.

“It’s important for people to know what to do in those situations and be prepared; it’s really good that the school is trying to take some initiative,” said junior Portia Silver regarding the lockdown discussions.

Administrators would also like to start having more lockdown drills to prepare the students and faculty, including Officer Rice.

“I would eventually like to have more of the drills and get students more involved and engaged and get everybody on the same page so we all know what to do without question if something bad like that happened. The more we practice, the more confident we’ll be and you’d be surprised how quick… you’ll go into the mode of doing it,” Rice said.

everytown-map

Locations of school shootings nationwide. Image courtesy of EveryTown Research for Gun Safety

A rise in school shootings has put the whole country on red alert. Schools are now preparing for an intruder to come into a building in many new ways.

In UAHS, administrators are teaching “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.” rather than old policies where students were supposed to stay in their rooms like sitting ducks. These new policies will prepare students and staff for the possibilities that could arise from a new wave of threats.

According to Rice, “it will probably never happen, but we’re going to be ready, faculty and students and we’re not going to stick our heads in the sand, not anymore.”