It has been over a year since the tragic events that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, prompting the creation of the #neveragain movement.
The movement’s motive was to bring to light the effects of school shootings and advocate for gun control laws to prevent these types of events from ever happening again. As well as creating the #neveragain movement, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas also created the March For Our Lives, an organization dedicated to increasing social awareness of gun control laws. “Independent of how one feels about increased gun control, it seems clear that [the #neveragain movement] has made the conversation about curbing these types of violence— by whatever means— feel more present,” said Professor of English, Dustin Bissell.
A shooting is defined as a “mass shooting” when four or more people are killed, excluding the shooter. School shootings have been happening for decades; however, the shooting most connected with bringing to light the issue of school violence was Columbine in 1999.
Columbine, what was once thought of as the most tragic school shooting, barely ranks in the list of the top five deadliest school shootings in the United States anymore. More shootings, as the ones at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now Parkland have ousted Columbine from its infamous spot.
According to the BBC, 2018 was the worst year for school shootings in the United States, with a shooting occurring about once every eight days and 113 people killed or injured in a school shooting. This sobering statistic has lead school administers to provide training on how to keep safe in the event of a school shooting to their students and staff. As the conversation surrounding gun control and school shootings grow, there has been controversy about the adequacy of school shooting trainings. “[A]s a teacher I think it’s important to make students aware, when and where appropriate, that school shooter trainings themselves are actually the subject of a little bit of controversy, with multiple perspectives that should be listened to and considered,” said Bissell.
Micheal Dorn, the executive director of Safe Havens, a non-profit organization that consults schools about campus safety issues, said that instead of training students and staff with a single catch-all approach such as going into a lockdown, they should instead be exposed to scenario-based training. Scenario-based training teaches students and staff how to react and deviate from an original plan when events suggest that following it would be too dangerous.
The most widely accepted response program – and in use at Alma College – is ALICE training. ALICE is an acronym, and stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evaluate. These are steps one should take when presented with an active shooter situation. When taking part in ALICE training, there are different roles for teachers and students . “[T]here is an ongoing sense of responsibility in being a teacher, so it’s not enough to simply feel comfortable in protecting oneself,” said Bissell. “In that sense, these types of training can foster a certain sense of added security in spite of the type of situation it prepares one for.”
In the year since the beginning of the #neveragain movement, the Parkland teens responsible for its creation have used its message to promote the rising issue of gun violence and call for stricter gun control regulations. They have published a book, gone on a cross country tour to promote voter registration, and organized the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., whose turnout made it one of the largest protests in American history.
While school shootings and gun control remain a hotly disputed topic, the core foundation and message of the #neveragain movement stands strong.