Echoes of the Florida School Shooting

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By: Nkechi Ibeneme

As the world celebrated and shared love gifts on February 14, being Valentine’s Day, a troubled teenager chose to ‘gift’ bullets to his former schoolmates. Armed with an AR -15 rifle, Nikolas Cruz, 19, stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and opened fire on the students like a hunter on a mindless games hunt, killing 17 people – 14 teenagers  and three adults,  and injuring 15 others in the process.
Nikolas, a former student of the school expelled for some disciplinary reasons, arrived Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shortly before dismissal in an Uber taxi, and had told a freshman student  who encountered him at the hallway while loading his assault rifle; “You’d better get out of here, things are gonna start getting messy.”  And, things did ‘get messy’, as Nikolas thereafter launched one of the deadliest mass shooting on a school in U.S history. Bringing to 18, the number of school shootings in the U.S, this year alone!  – according to ‘Everytown for Gun Safety’, a gun control pressure group.
Australia applied a stricter gun policy in 1996 and it paid off, after a 28-year-old man named Martin Bryant, armed with a semi-automatic rifle walked into a café in Port Arthur and opened fire, killing 35 people and wounding 28 others. The Prime Minister at that time, John Howard, knew he had to do something urgently to forestall a reoccurrence and ensure a safer Australia – for Australians and tourists. That decision, would lead to the drafting of the ‘National Firearms  Agreements’ one month later, which banned ownership of automatic, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns,  drastically; restricted legal ownership of firearms and instituted a compulsory buyback of all banned guns already in people’s possession, among other measures. In that single buyback exercise, Australia was able to mop up about 650, 000 guns nationwide thus, solving a major problem that almost engulfed them.
Should America toe the same path as Australia? Only time will tell. One thing is sure; the recent killing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has heightened the public outcry and demand for stricter gun control, even leading to street protests and re-election threats. Hopefully, this would end the long U.S. debate on gun rights which was re-sparked in December 2012, after a gunman opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children, all under the age of seven along with six employees. The liberal gun policy, which is backed by the second amendment of the American constitution, has put America in jeopardy for many years now. The Valentine’s Day massacre appears a turning point for stricter gun policies, safer schools and a safer U.S.

We Mourn Them
That unfortunate Florida incident sent shock waves throughout the whole world but for us in Nigeria, it was much more than that; it bore grim echoes of our own experiences

Salute to Peter Wang, 15

This teen died for other teens. He was shot while holding the door for his classmates to escape. Had he fled immediately he got to the door, he probably- almost certainly, would be alive today.
He died, because he thought of others and cared for their safety- an attribute that featured resoundingly in the tributes by his friends and close relatives.
TEENS CONNECT salutes the sense of love and bravery exhibited by this young man even in the face of death. Thank you Peter Wang! May your soul and the souls of all the other victims, rest in perfect peace.

Timeline of Some of the School Attacks in Nigeria
In 1999, a major cult-orchestrated school attack was carried out at Obafemi Awolowo University, in Ile Ife, Osun State which left five students dead and 11 others wounded.
In 2013, on September 29, gunmen believed to be Islamic extremists, got into the male dormitory of the College of Agriculture in Gujba, Yobe  State, Nigeria around 1.am, while the boys were asleep and opened fire on them killing 44 students and teachers in that single attack.
What ranks as the deadliest attack on a school in Nigeria’s history, happened on February 25, 2014, when Islamic terrorists stormed the Federal Government College in Bundi Yadi, Yobe State at midnight while the students were asleep. They threw explosives into the dormitories and as the students climbed out of the windows looking to escape, they were gunned down by the terrorists positioned outside, while some of the students had their throats slit and some others burnt to death. At the end of the attack, 59 boys were reportedly killed and all 24 buildings within the school premises were burnt to the ground.
The incessant and deadly nature of these attacks, forced schools in that part of the North to shut down. This threw thousands of students out of school with little hope of returning. Some of the schools.
A new twist was recorded in the series of school attacks in Nigeria when Boko Haram went to the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, on the night of April 14, 2014 and kidnapped 276 female students of the school, some of whom are yet to be seen.
The Chibok girls kidnap became an object of international concern and elicited condemnation worldwide. However, it seemed to have opened a new chapter as kidnapping has become a threat to many schools in the country.
The question now is, if America is looking to curb gun violence by restricting gun ownership, how do we intend to deal with our own albatross?

Timeline of Some of the School Attacks in Nigeria
In 1999, a major cult-orchestrated school attack was carried out at Obafemi Awolowo University, in Ile Ife, Osun State which left five students dead and 11 others wounded.
In 2013, on September 29, gunmen believed to be Islamic extremists, got into the male dormitory of the College of Agriculture in Gujba, Yobe  State, Nigeria around 1.am, while the boys were asleep and opened fire on them killing 44 students and teachers in that single attack.
What ranks as the deadliest attack on a school in Nigeria’s history, happened on February 25, 2014, when Islamic terrorists stormed the Federal Government College in Bundi Yadi, Yobe State at midnight while the students were asleep. They threw explosives into the dormitories and as the students climbed out of the windows looking to escape, they were gunned down by the terrorists positioned outside, while some of the students had their throats slit and some others burnt to death. At the end of the attack, 59 boys were reportedly killed and all 24 buildings within the school premises were burnt to the ground.
The incessant and deadly nature of these attacks, forced schools in that part of the North to shut down. This threw thousands of students out of school with little hope of returning. Some of the schools.
A new twist was recorded in the series of school attacks in Nigeria when Boko Haram went to the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, on the night of April 14, 2014 and kidnapped 276 female students of the school, some of whom are yet to be seen.
The Chibok girls kidnap became an object of international concern and elicited condemnation worldwide. However, it seemed to have opened a new chapter as kidnapping has become a threat to many schools in the country.
The question now is, if America is looking to curb gun violence by restricting gun ownership, how do we intend to deal with our own albatross?

Tips for a Safer School Environment:
Safety is the responsibility of everyone within the school environment. School administrators and students have roles to play in securing their safety. The National Association of School Psychologists spell out these roles in a hand book, “Responding to school violence: Tips for Administrators”.  Physical Safety

• Ensure there is limited access to school building, including a designated entrance with all other access points locked from the exterior.

• Campus monitors should patrol the school parking lot noting people entering and leaving the campus.

• Staff members should constantly monitor and supervise areas such as hallways, cafeterias, and playgrounds.

• School resource officers or security guards should constantly patrol the campus.

• Guests must report to main office, sign in, and wear badges; and staff members are instructed to report unfamiliar people to school office.

• These strategies are to be augmented by security systems (metal detectors, video monitoring, and exit door alarm systems).

Participation by students
• We encourage students to take responsibility for their part in maintaining safe school environments, including student participation in safety planning. They, better than adults, know the hidden or less trafficked areas of the school that are more likely to be dangerous.

• Have in place anonymous reporting systems (student hot lines, “suggestion” boxes, “tell an adult” campaigns).

Safety tips on how to survive school shooting by Wiki How
Wiki How offers the following tips in case your school (or church) is invaded:
1. Escape safely:
*Run away whenever possible. Before running, ensure you are not running in the direction of the attacker.
*Master the escape routes and determine the safest.
*React immediately, don’t waste time.
*Ignore your personal belongings – your life is more important.
*Bring people with you – that way you save others and play the numbers game against the shooter(s).

2. Hide and barricade yourself:
If you sense that running is not safe, hide behind stacks of papers, desks or other stuffs that can prevent a bullet from getting through to you. But before hiding, lock and barricade the door, turn off the lights and arm yourself with any object or acidic liquid that can be used as a weapon should the attacker(s) enter the room where you are hiding.
Visit: www. wikihow.com/survive-a-school-or-workplace-shooting, to read more.
Every school and student should be safety conscious and try to device local measures that best suit their environment.