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Preventing school violence goes farther than guns

A critique of the March for Our Lives from a victim of school violence

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Evans (pictured) attended the march with a hand-made sign showing her support for ending school violence.

Evans (pictured) attended the march with a hand-made sign showing her support for ending school violence.

Photo by Robin Evans | Submitted

Photo by Robin Evans | Submitted

Evans (pictured) attended the march with a hand-made sign showing her support for ending school violence.

Written By Gracey Evans, Sports Photo Editor

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March for Our Lives, an international march dedicated to the advocation of gun control, was set up in less than a month. Despite this short notice, millions of people participated both in the country and around the world. Around 30,000 people came to the sibling march in Pittsburgh and hundreds of thousands more descended upon Washington D.C. for the main march.

I marched. I didn’t take a single photo, even though I had my camera strapped to my side. I wasn’t there as a member of the press – I was there as a citizen with concern for how this country has treated the student victims and the fear of growing mass murder attempts in schools.

I was a person marching for something I believe in. I was marching for something I had been through like the students at Parkland, Newtown and so many others over the past 20 years since Columbine. An act of mass violence in a school I thought I was safe in.

It was an amazing experience to have marched in an event like this as opposed to covering it as a member of student media like I so often have.

The atmosphere was supportive and people of all ages came to march, from young school students to grandmothers. The sound of the chants ringing down Fifth Avenue made me happy and I myself started at least seven chants.

Like many of my fellow marchers, I created a sign for the protest. One side read, “School safety failed me but I won’t let it fail you.” The other side said, “I march for all who have been victims of school violence like me,” with a panther paw in the bottom corner representing my high school’s mascot, the panther.

Four years ago next Monday, a boy entered Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, PA with two kitchen knives and stabbed 21 people including my best friend, who was standing right beside me. No one died, thankfully, but before it happened, I always thought to myself “something like that will never happen here.” Obviously, I was wrong.

People have unfortunately been using the fact that my life-threatening experience was with a knife and not a gun as means to separate me from the cause I have dedicated myself to – ending school violence.

When I got to the march, I knew what I was standing for and supporting. I had gotten into contact with the coordinators of the Pittsburgh march and found acceptance and gratitude with them. They loved that I had chosen to attend and told me they “hoped that we will find a way to ensure that students never have to go through what you went through ever again.” 

When I got to the rally, I found that everything was essentially about gun
control.

Don’t get me wrong, the speeches did get me thinking – if my experience had been with a firearm, I wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t be typing this.

I was there to support students who have been victims of school violence in general. I was upset the rally was solely based on gun control and not school safety, but understood that, after all, that is what sparked this mass reaction from people all over the country.

As someone who has been a victim of school violence that didn’t happen via a legal or illegal firearm, I found myself wanting to hear from people whose situations would not be changed or affected by gun control laws.

I was marching for students. To keep them safe in schools so nothing like this would ever happen again. Was my experience not considered by the organizers of the march?

I can’t help but think that my story wasn’t relevant in the minds of the coordinators of the March for Our Lives. I hope that changes.

School safety needs to become a priority. Keeping us, as students, safe is essential for the future. Too many students have died and too many have been injured. I understand what brought us here was gun violence, but ensuring the safety of all students from any violence is a topic I’d like to be talked about just as much. Because every student deserves to feel safe in their school.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Preventing school violence goes farther than guns”

  1. Amber Morgan on April 4th, 2018 10:26 am

    I believe that if the nation would just be nice to others and not make fun of the way people dress,what they look like,or how they get to school everyday.

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