I am going to tell a story. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a 14-year old girl at this high school. It’s a normal day. You get up and are looking forward to go to school. This boy has been into you and you feel so happy. Your friends have been talking about him for weeks. Every time you hear his name you feel this little spark inside of you, you blush a little and begin to smile. You have the slight suspicion that he may declare his love today, as it is Valentine’s day after all. Your mom drives you to school and your whole body is tingling. The stage is set, something special is going to happen today. Before you jump out the car you tell your mom bye. Your mom looks at you and tells you ‘I love you.’. Ugh, sure Mom, love you too.
Once you jump out the car at your high school, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it seems to be a normal day. You pop in your head phones and put on your sing along playlist. Of course, the first song is almost never the right one, so you start skipping. Someone Like You, Halo, Havana, Pumped Up Kicks, that’s a good one. You totally get into your vibe and walk to the classroom. A few classes later, just before lunch break, there is a fire drill. The fire alarm goes off and everyone gets excited, the class won’t be finished! Everything goes to plan and it is time for lunch break. You go to the cafeteria, get food and sit down with your friends. You are talking with a friend when all the people sat at your table start giggling. There he is, the boy who is so into you, and he brought you a small Valentine’s day carnation. Finally! Your heart is jumping and you are so happy! From the outside however, you get very shy. ‘Th.. th.. thank you’, you mumble while you try not to look at him. He walks away and when he is out of sight, all your friends start screaming. ‘OH MY GOD! THAT IS SO CUTE’ and ‘OH MY GOD, YOU SHOULD HAVE KISSED HIM’ are among the things that are being screamed at you. You don’t really listen though, you just blush and think. You realise you made a mistake, and after school you will go up to him and talk to him.
Towards the end of the day, you get more and more nervous. You don’t pay attention in class and just stare out of the window. It’s 2.19 pm and the day is almost over. You think about how you’ll have to hurry to catch him on his way out, as you are on the third floor. Then suddenly you hear loud bangs. Are those shots? Those can’t be shots can it? What is happening? Then the fire alarm goes off. Is this another drill? The day is almost over, why would there be a drill? Oh my god, is there a school shooting happening? Everyone is screaming and the teacher wants people to be silent. Duck and be silent. You are sat in the classroom and you hear the shots getting louder. You are in total panic. Are your friends okay? Is the boy okay? Oh my god, is the boy okay? Please let him be okay. Please let him be okay. After nearly an hour, a police officer comes up and ushers everyone to go outside. Hands up and go outside. You put your backpack on in case you get shot from behind. You run through the halls and see people laying there. Blood everywhere. Please let your crush not be one of those. Please let him be safe. You run outside and you are approached by a journalist. The conversation goes as follows:
Journalist: What did you see in there?
You: I saw blood. I saw bodies.
You start sobbing silently.
Journalist: Can you describe the bodies?
You can’t describe the bodies. You recognised those faces. You have seen them around the halls. Teachers, students. What if your crush was one of those? You don’t want to talk about it. You just want to cry.
Journalist: Can you please describe the bodies for me?
On the 14th of February, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was struck by a terrible act of violence. 19-year old former student Nikolaus Cruz calmly walked into his old high school and shot everything that he could see. The lives of 17 teens and teachers were taken. This has stirred up quite the debate on gun control, which it should of course. But another issue is being overlooked. The journalists on site are crossing lines they should not. The kids are almost being interrogated after having just seen what may become a case of PTSD. They have seen things that no kid should have to see. But unfortunately, they have. This is not a story of someone there. I made this up. But it might as well have been. Kids have been asked to describe the bodies they saw. I wrote this to bring attention to an issue. American journalism is way too focused on bringing the news as fast as possible. Please show some compassion to the victims. Please show some compassion to the eyewitnesses. Please don’t cross this moral line, because this can screw the kids up even more.
Cover: Pixabay / Final editor: Ramona Nouse