Posted on: May 13, 2023 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Graphic by Emily Stephens

By Abigail Niedospial, JRN-111 Student

Justin Perez is eager to become a teacher, but in the back of his mind, he is plagued with concerns of school shootings, and he admits they have made him question his career choice at times.

“I think it has made me second guess it because it’s scary never to know if there will be another shooting again,” said Perez, who is a Moraine Valley student planning to teach history. He said it’s “especially is scary to think of ‘It’s my job to protect students. What happens if I can’t protect them?’”

Every year, we see how school shootings continue to devastate the students and families who are directly affected. But what about the rest of us? How is seeing yet another mass shooting in the news affecting us indirectly? Experts warn of “vicarious traumatization” from seeing or hearing about a tragedy, as TIME magazine reports.

“As of early May, the Gun Violence Archive has counted more than 200 mass shootings in the United States this year,” The New York Times reports.

The Washington Post, which tracks school shootings, reports that “more than 352,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.”

This video explains the best way to survive an active shooting, using the run, hide, fight method.

Students and teachers have voiced their concerns, frustrated at the lack of acknowledgment of the ongoing events.

The effects of witnessing gun violence–directly or indirectly–can be long-lasting.

Moraine assistant speech coach and speech professor Krista Appelquist was directly impacted by gun violence. Her classmates were killed in the Brown’s Chicken shooting in Palatine in 1993.

“Two men entered about closing time and killed seven employees, by making them kneel and shooting them in the head,” Appelquist said. “Two killed were my classmates, Michael Castro and Rico Solis. That night, some friends and I were out sledding in the dark right when the shooting occurred. We were only a mile away.”

She still experiences the effects in her day-to-day life.

“To this day, I have a habit of staring at men’s hands, not everyone and not all the time, but if a stranger looks irritated or stressed, the first thing I do is look down at their hands. I figure if I see the gun early I can get away.”

Students in particular have a lot to lose, their bright futures turning into a constant worry of survival.
Deisy Trujillo, who is currently gearing towards a career in education, worries about her safety here at Moraine.

“I have thought about a shooting happening here at Moraine, but not because I’m not feeling safe but because of what I see on the news,” Trujillo said. “When I see the news it gets me thinking like ‘What if something like that were to happen here at Moraine?’ or ‘Where would I run to?’”

This kind of general fear is taking a toll on students’ mental health, as TIME reports: “Even when children aren’t directly involved in school shootings, they are deeply affected by them and often experience anxiety and depression as a result, says Kira Riehm, a postdoctoral fellow at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.”

Appelquist points to another long-term effect: desensitization, which she has experienced herself.

“At the time I knew the names of all the victims and could tell you exactly what happened in a play-by-play as it was recreated by the forensics scientists,” Appelquist said. “Now we scroll past public shooting headlines as if it’s nothing.” 

To this day, I have a habit of staring at men’s hands, not everyone and not all the time, but if a stranger looks irritated or stressed, the first thing I do is look down at their hands. I figure if I see the gun early I can get away.”

Krista Appelquist, Speech Fundamentals Professor

Moraine Valley’s police chief Patrick Treacy believes there are two major factors that play a role in shooting incidents.

“Mental illness is in my opinion a big issue in this country,” Treacy said. “So I think that’s definitely part of it. Part of it is a detachment from reality, not understanding the ramifications of what they’re gonna do.

“It’s not like a video game where you reset and it all goes away, maybe they just don’t quite realize that.” 

To ensure Moraine students’ ability to protect themselves in case of an active shooter, RUN, HIDE, and FIGHT was introduced. The program highlights the three best options during an active shooting: Either run from the scene, hide in a secure place with the lights off, or fight, aiming to incapacitate the shooter.

Officers also are placed at different parts of the campus, to limit the number of possible risks.

“There are some times where I get a weird feeling walking around campus and think to myself, ‘What if something bad would happen and what would I have to do to ensure my safety?'” Perez said. “But I am then reassured when I see the campus officers driving around and that does put an ease to my thoughts.”

Some students, however, aren’t as concerned and are confident when they walk through the halls of Moraine.

“Sometimes it does make me afraid, but after going to Moraine Valley for two years I have felt nothing but safe,” says Layla Shoman.

However, Treacy believes we all should still take caution.

“Nothing is protected enough,” he said.