After hearing news of school shootings or other violence, it's natural for students
— no matter how old they are or where they go to school — to worry about
whether this type of incident may someday happen to them or their friends.
When a tragedy like this happens, it's normal to feel sad and anxious, and to want
to make sense of the situation.
Why Does School Violence Happen?
School violence isn't easy to understand. There is no single reason why students
become violent. Some are just following behavior they've seen at home, on the streets,
or in video games, movies, or TV. Some are dealing with mental health problems, like
people who turn violent are victims of teasing and bullying who've hit a limit and
feel like they would do anything to make it stop. They may feel isolated and rejected
by their peers. These are only a couple of the reasons why a person may become violent.
There's one thing experts do agree on, though: Having access to guns or other weapons
makes it easier for some people to lash out against the things or people they don't
What Can I Do?
Someone on the verge of violence may display warning signs. These can include:
playing with weapons of any kind
bragging about acts of violence he or she would like to commit
showing an obsession with violent movies or playing violent games
bullying or threatening other people
cruelty to pets or other animals
If you start feeling unsafe at school, talk to a trusted adult. That person could
be a teacher, parent, school counselor, or religious leader. It can be difficult to
report violence — after all, we are taught not to tell on others.
But many schools have set up ways to report bullying
or the possibility of violence anonymously. Maybe your school has (or could set up)
an anonymous hotline for people to share concerns without worrying that they may be
found telling on another student.
If you've witnessed or experienced violence of any kind, not talking about it can
make feelings build up inside and cause problems such as depression, anxiety, and
fear. Posttraumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) can develop in someone who has lived through a traumatic
event, such as a serious car accident, physical or sexual abuse, or a shooting.
You don't have to be hurt to have PTSD — for some people, simply watching
a traumatic event or being threatened with great physical harm is enough to trigger
it. That's why it's important to get help. School counselors can be a good place to
start — they're familiar with the issues in your school and can help you put
things in perspective.