Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teens Need to Be Ready for Emergencies

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teens Need to Be Ready for Emergencies

Article excerpt

Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary, the Boston Marathon. Although I didn't include the words "shooting" or "bombing," those two words likely popped into your heads. These three events have made indelible marks in modern history, with random acts of violence in the United States over the past two years becoming almost a weekly occurrence.

Now more than ever, people, especially school-age children and their parents, have to be aware of -- and prepared for -- school tragedies.

While records of school shootings in the U.S. go back to 1764, the Columbine shooting in Littleton, Colo., by two students in 1999 was the worst massacre to occur at a high school. Two seniors killed 12 students and one teacher and wounded 21 others before committing suicide.

On Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy struck when terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and targeted other sites around the country. These acts sent the nation into a frenzy; many were afraid to leave their homes, much less send their children to school.

The recent epidemic of violence within schools and at public events is much like what the terrorists attempted to accomplish in 2001. Fear tactics are built by the shooter. They killed the people who treated them wrongly. People with mental illnesses have been responsible for many of the acts of violence, including those that occurred at Columbine, Virginia Tech, the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., Sandy Hook, and many others.

Unfortunately, too many people walk around with a "it'll never happen to me" attitude. I know that is the case at my school, Quaker Valley High School, nestled in the ever-safe "Sewickley Bubble."

I asked some students how they felt about the threats. Zoe Fishter, a Quaker Valley student, said, "It's something I think about all the time. Sometimes I sit in class and think, 'How could I escape if something terrible were to happen?' If a shooting were to happen, I'm not just going to be a sitting duck during a lockdown. I have an escape route planned from every classroom in the school."

Although this particular student had the topic at the forefront of her mind, others didn't. …

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