Warning Signs: Tell Somebody

Ryan Miller, Staff Writer

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As a high school senior prepared to leave, seeing the warning signs reported about the Parkland school shooter on February 14th saddens and frustrates me, because they show how preventable the shooting could have been.  

Unfortunately, the events that took place on Valentine’s Day this year could have been stopped. Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, was obviously a troubled young adult. He frequently posted on social media with pictures of guns near his head, and reportedly abused his girlfriend, according to the article “‘Disturbing’ Instagram posts: What Nikolas Cruz, suspected in Florida shooting, did online” posted by Kelli Kennedy, of USA Today. If one kid who followed Cruz were to tell an adult about his social media activity, the events possibly could have been prevented. 

One PSA video, created by the Sandy Hook victim’s families, showed a story of one random high school boy and his path to find love. However, almost every viewer was oblivious to the real point of the video. In the background of each scene is a boy who is showing many signs of planning a shooting. First, he is reading a gun magazine, sitting alone. Next, he points to his head with a finger gun, as if he was shooting himself. Then, he’s watching gun videos in the library, and posting to social media with guns.  

It goes on and on, and eventually the student charges into the gym and begins shooting. The viewers are shocked by what they see, but the video goes back to show what they missed in each scene. The point is that thousands of kids and staff members were oblivious to the obvious signs that he might have been planning something. It’s proving that sometimes these school shootings really can be stopped, and there shouldn’t be any more tragedies if people just keep their eyes open.  

I repeat the words “could have been stopped” because no one really knows if it was fully preventable. It may have turned out that if law enforcement would have talked to him, they might have figured he didn’t have any plans, and then he went on to carry out the events a week later. The point is that having the chance to save multiple lives close to you would mean you’d be a hero and savior of innocent students and staff.  

However, it is vitally important to remember that most of these warning signs probably mean nothing, and do not lead to a school shooting. Some younger students like learning about the military, different types of guns, or using illustrations to show detail in a gun, just like some teenagers obsess over shopping for clothes and catching up on the latest news of the Kardashian family. But that doesn’t mean the school grounds are an appropriate place to do hobbies.  

Often the biggest warning sign isn’t one by the shooter. It’s the actions of people around them who bully and harass them. The shooter then might go into depression, feel isolated, and develop mental disorders. That’s where some school shootings develop, just from a couple of kids bullying that shooter day in and day out. A new movement has sprung called Walk Up, which encourages students to instead of walking out and protesting, walking up to someone they might have never talked to and saying something nice to them. If thousands of students participated in this new movement, these isolated, bullied kids wouldn’t feel so alone. 

I’m not trying to make excuses for the shooter at Parkland one month ago. I feel as much sorrow and frustration as any other high schooler around the nation. The people who go into schools and gun down dozens of innocent people when they are trapped in a small building are some of the worst criminals on the planet.  They deserve to be given hefty jail sentence consisting of life without the possibility of parole.  

If you are a student or staff member at a school, I ask that you keep your eyes open. Don’t let students sit alone, and certainly don’t let anyone read or watch material related to guns. The chances are extremely low that anything would happen, but due to recent events it is most definitely not the place to be doing it. Tell somebody else about suspicious behavior, because you might just save innocent lives one day.  

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Warning Signs: Tell Somebody