Today is one of those days. 17 students were killed yesterday in a school shooting in Parkland FL. By now you have seen details about the shooter, the weapon, and the community. You’ve heard about heroic teachers who didn’t make it out alive and listened to recordings of frantic 911 calls.
But something different happened yesterday. During the period of active shooting while teens were hiding in closets and barricaded classrooms, some turned to Twitter to communicate with their families. (This makes sense, since there are times when tweets can travel faster than texts.)
Soon the world was watching, and survivors of similar school shootings replied with advice and comfort.
To recap: during an active shooting teens from across the country were communicating with each other about how to survive and stay calm. After a few clicks, I found a report estimating that 150,000 American youth have survived a school shooting. That tragic club grew by 3,000 yesterday.
Rather than diving into the partisan debate over next steps, which would be inappropriate as a nonprofit leader in my official capacity, I simply want to call attention to that number.
As of February 15, 2018 over 150,000 young people in the United States have experienced a school shooting first hand.
That’s over 150,000 gut-wrenching drives to crime scenes to pick up children dropped off by parents hours earlier on perfectly normal mornings. That’s over 150,000 sleepless nights as kids replay what happened afterward. That’s over 150,000 “first days back in school” once authorities re-open buildings after patching bullet holes and painting over blood splatter.
I don’t have a way to measure trauma, but if I did that would mean over 150,000 units of trauma being carried on small shoulders into the future. Even if I had a magic wand and could put a permanent end to this tidal wave of violence in our schools, we still have 150,000 young survivors coping with memories usually reserved for combat veterans.
This post doesn’t come together with a tidy bow at the end. I don’t have advice to share or a solution to propose. I’m just going to hug my daughter a little longer tonight…