Administrators, teachers, faculty, and students know and live with the daily threat of a school shooting. School Shootings have become commonplace since Columbine, and with each passing day, schools are still plagued by the epidemic. It appears that schools are becoming emotional and physical war zones.

The Valentine’s Day massacre that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was the result of a troubled 19-year-old boy who was expelled from school last year for possession of weapons and firearms.

The tragic shooting took the lives of seventeen students and school faculty, injured fourteen others and traumatized an entire community. This horrifying act has left an indelible mark on a school previously known for being a safe place for teaching and learning.

Since Wednesday’s shooting, there has been an outpouring of sympathy from hundreds of communities around the globe. US law officials continue to urge people to say something if they see something.

It must be noted that in this particular incident, students, teachers, and even a Youtube vlogger said something but there were still missteps, gaps in communicating with the FBI. This has led to the murkiness of where and with whom the responsibility lay once information is received.

Enough is enough!

In the aftermath, many are trying to understand the ‘why’ behind it all. This certainly speaks to our humanity, and begs the question, how do those affected by tragedies derive meaning from the senseless loss of young lives.

The US has laws which protect the privacy of its citizens, inclusive of ensuring confidentiality about one’s health. However, these same laws can hinder data collection and preemptive operations designed to counter violent acts like mass school shootings. To this end, what can be done before cruelty strikes (again)? What takes the place of presumptuous diagnosis of a mental health disorder to explain why children are being murdered?

What gives?

In the search for comfort, standard operating protocols and procedures must be developed, instituted and clearly spelled out to law enforcement and school officials. These procedures should then be implemented along with actionable linkages for cross-communication with authorities. Lastly, they should be practiced just like to code red and fire drills in schools. The key here is to be proactive and not reactive.

Superintendent and students lead the charge of change and speak out

On Wednesday, in response to the MSD High School shooting, Tom Verni, CNN’s Law enforcement Consultant, spoke about the need for action and expressed the limitations of Washington 'not being able to do anything.' He candidly spoke about the need to take care of each other and insisted that there be follow up to prevent gun violence from happening in schools.

Robert Runcie, Superintendent of Broward County, spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday near the school’s campus and expressed how this massacre has jump-started the conversation about action. Runcie also shared that students in his district have a voice and they use them to speak out. He noted that this horrific incident is not just about mental health it is also about gun laws. Runcie, along with countless parents, teachers, and students, emphasized the need for action and not just words.

Is Congress out of touch with what’s really happening in America’s schools?

Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are now challenging lawmakers and the POTUS to take action.There have been urgent pleas from MSD ‘s stakeholders to keep assault rifles like the AR-15 out of the hands of youth. This was the same type of weapon used to murder their friends and teachers. These grief-stricken words continue to ping in the ears Americans across the nation. The same cries for help hang in the air on Capitol Hill, but are lawmakers listening?

What is the plan of action? How will Congress address the insanity that is a walking threat among those who attend and serve our American schools? Do lawmakers know or understand what actually takes place in our schools?

The potential of a student retaliating rests daily in the forefront and the recesses of school staff’s minds. Principals, teachers and others who work in school systems risk their lives every day. It is the status and nature of modern education even if it should not be so. Unfortunately, it isn’t until something happens that the forgotten students and school employees are remembered.

This too is a harsh reality that should not exist—but it does.

Those, like congressmen, who do not work in education, find it difficult to wrap their minds around the notion that a student armed with an assault rifle could gain access to a school. However, what is most disturbing is that this is not the first time this has happened and there is a high probability that it will happen again—that is, if nothing is done about this deadly phenomena.

A message to President Trump: Parents should not have to bury their children

Many American schools lack resources and wrap around services to fully address the socio-emotional needs of teenagers.

A great number of school districts do not have adequately trained security officers or proper equipment to check for weapons. Parents send their children to school each day unharmed and expect the school to return them the same way.

Budgets have been slashed across states and mental health facilities tend to fill up quickly; and now that Obama Care mandates have been repealed, this places some families in positions in which they are unable to get the necessary treatment for their children.

The White House's response and call to action with sensitivity to mental health have been heard.

This is why America urges our leaders to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and start at the root of the problem. It is understood there will be meeting with governors and attorney generals later this month. An invitation to the Secretary of Education and members from the office of Homeland Security should be considered. These are the people who are in the trenches alongside school officials, security officers, police, teachers, parents, and students. They too should attend the discussion. Everyone is looking for leadership--and depend on the POTUS to get this right.

The stakes are high and parents are losing their babies.

School shootings can happen anywhere, and as we have seen, these massacres are not just happening in metropolitan schools, they are everywhere. This is because guns are indiscriminate. The awfulness is cemented in hate and instability. The issue of school safety is an opportunity to effectuate and demonstrate a united bipartisanship. Let us put aside the rhetoric, rebuke and tongue lashings, and pick up the gauntlet that has been thrown at our feet.

Let us not worry who we upset in the National Rifle Association (NRA) or cave-in to those who view gun control as an infringement upon their 2nd amendment rights. America stands together on the issue of keeping our schools safe for children. They have a right to be educated and live unafraid.

A personal message to America’s children: #Right2BeSafe

You have the right to be heard. This is clearly stated in the human rights treaty known as the UNCRC, United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children.

The treaty, drafted nearly three decades ago, supports the rights of children to take political action in situations that cause harm and requires your protection. The treaty, which is bound by federal and international law, further supports your first amendment rights and your right to a free and appropriate education.

Your parents, teachers, and administrators have taught you to use your voice. You exemplify how far we have progressed in education and our democracy. It is you, our American youth who will band together to move the hand of justice and scribe new laws. It is you who will shake up the nation to stand tall against gun violence and gun laws that allow teenagers, who are psychologically impulsive, to purchase assault weapons.

All too often we hear of mass shootings and are told this is not the time to discuss gun control—it was then, and it is now. You have the ability to supercharge and redefine the shared meaning and understanding of gun control. Many have given their lives in the name of the first amendment and the rights it affords. The ultimate sacrifice of life has been made by our friends and family in the spirit of all that is good and free. These are the same rights that prompt persistent forward progress in order to eradicate gun violence in our schools.

It is your generation that will lay the foundation of our history that is yet to come. Stories will be told about your resilience and unrelenting courage that spurred the change that had been long overdue. It will be this change that will reverberate across states and cultures because you not only have the right to be heard, you have the right to be safe.

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