Generation Z, defined as people born between 1999-2012, has been caught in the middle of different conflicts globally. The most major incidents that occurred would have to be the school shooting of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999 . Fifteen people were killed, including the perpetrators: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, but this was just the beginning. After that, it became an entire series of events that began to snowball and increase global tensions, while making everybody, including Gen-Z, have to endure these experiences. Of course, years before this eventually became an enormous societal issue, it still existed but on a very mild degree than it does now.
In the aftermath of these events, we are quick to cry and sympathize with the victims, but in a couple of months, we can’t even remember exactly what happened. Do we care, or is it something that has occurred so often that we subconsciously set it aside as a societal norm that we’ve adapted to? You can’t blame the people that do this: they are right, this has occurred too often and now they have adapted, it’s human nature. Though most of us forget those who take action like Emma González, a victim of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida, who co-founded a group of the defense of gun-control Never Again MSD. The primary issue of this problem is gun violence. Ms. Katherine Lawrence, a TL math teacher commented on her personal experience of being under lockdown during softball practice when she was a freshman in college, saying, “We left the softball field as fast as we could and went to a nearby basement, and we stayed there for about four hours until we had gotten the all-clear to leave.”
The topic of school shootings and mass shootings in general brings up a highly debatable question on regulation and control of firearms. The divide seems to be either pro or anti-gun. An anonymous male junior describes: “Personally I believe that people kill people, a gun doesn’t kill somebody. You look at instances like Nicholas Cruz and he was bullied; obviously he was not doing good, but he still had access to guns, he still shot up the school.” Among the people who are pro or anti gun, there’s much to argue about and decide before saying what should happen, if they want to do mental health checks or restrict sales of semi-automatic firearms. The anonymous junior continued saying, “That [incident of the Parkland school shooting] could’ve been easily prevented if someone realized that this kid is mentally unstable, this kid is going to harm people.”
Freshman Kim Nguyen also gave her opinion, stating, “Guns here are really easy to find, and if someone has mental issues or is going through something they won’t have any problem finding guns… bullying is still the main reason, here in the U.S we have a lot of discrimination and judgement what could get someone to do crazy stuff even if they don’t get any good from it.” We can say every country suffers from such traumatic events , but even countries with a higher crime rate than the U.S, rarely see a school shooting. Kids are mostly taught by their parents and teachers to include everyone instead of how to protect themselves if one of their aquainerences tries to kill them.
The evolution of technology has also helped with mass notification. Apps like Life360 and Find My Friends have also been a safety precaution that can be used with family and friends that track location in a world that is now more dangerous than ever. Local services, like Nixle (managed by Marin Sheriff’s Office) provide residents who choose to opt-in to receiving messages and notifications with incidents near them such as school lockdowns, missing persons, street avoidances due to police activity, etc.) Ms. Lawrence continued saying, “…they had just rolled out the text message service only a few months ago and we thought maybe it was just a test.” Mass notification services like Ms. Lawrence had at the time were necessary to the general safety of everyone and show the importance of them these days.
Our world is constantly in change; US conflicts involving Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries have also been a significant contributor to these toxic times that we live in. 9/11 was somewhat of a foundation for this division of hate and conflict. Just shy of 3,000 people were killed during 9/11 and this added fuel for an inferno that would tear up the US but also create uninhabitable conditions and inhumane treatment of people in the Middle East. Terrorist group Al Qaeda was a big player in the origin of these conflicts, and since the US had supported Israel into taking over Palestine, we became a target as most of the middle east are against it. In taking revenge on the United States, Al Qaeda was a big snowball devastation to our country.
After 9/11, the entire world was turned upside down. Parents had completely changed how they would raise their children in what would become an even more hostile environment. Students growing up in this generation are now experiencing a completely different perspective on their safety. For students, lockdown drills never even existed, but now are common and are done in almost every public school on a scheduled basis.
States have begun to be more proactive of the situation and try to mitigate the possible issues, a senate bill (SB 541) which is a bill that will make California’s public schools mandatory create comprehensive school safety plans for students enrolled from early kindergarten up to 12th grade. SB 541 is scheduled to be submitted to Governor Newsom as well as policy committees of the Legislature on or before November 1, 2021.