School Shootings and Rising Anxieties

Ava Hefferon, Staff Writer

In 2022, the number of school shootings hit an all-time record of 49, according to EducationWeek. One of the deadliest was the May 24 shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 21 children and teachers were killed.

2022 brought astonishing numbers with it: 135 students and teachers have either been murdered or injured by school shootings in this past year alone, according to EducationWeek.

This rapidly increasing death toll has an impact on all students’ mental health, as fear of shootings is becoming increasingly prominent across the nation. 

Sundra Zedania, ’23, senior leader of the Human Rights and Relations club, says she has noticed this change. “I think that the number one thing that students have to think about at a really young age in their lives is […] what’s the next exit?” she said. 

National statistics back Zedania’s view. In 2019, about 5 percent of students ages 12–18 reported that they had been afraid of attack or harm at school during the school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Comparatively, Pew Research finds that 57% of students are worried about a school shooting, and the majority of their parents agree. While school shootings have happened for decades, there’s no doubt that the rising number affects students and teachers’ mental health.

On the subject of mental health, Zedania said, “I feel like it’s also a fault of our system, and also the vacancies and limitations of our current infrastructure of healthcare, specifically mental health care.” 

Conor Maher, a counselor at Minnetonka High School, grew up at a time when school shootings were on the rise. The shooting at Columbine happened when he was in 4th grade and the shooting at Virginia Tech University happened his senior year of highschool.

 “I think about [school shootings] all the time. Yeah, I think about it sometimes during general staff meetings. What would happen right now if someone came in?” said Maher. 

Maher says he thinks the Minnetonka School District makes it a priority to keep its students safe, which he feels is part of the reason why the school has not experienced a shooting.