Parkland students unhappy with the new reality they demanded

Rapid action to make schools more secure and reduce the risk of another mass shooting was demanded after the attack at Parkland. The changes came fast, something quite unusual when you consider the generally glacial pace of the federal government (and usually the state as well). Florida passed the Gun and School Safety Bill on March 7th, barely three weeks after the shooting, with similar legislation being introduced and attracting bipartisan sponsors in Washington.

All of this has added up to many changes. In addition to bans on bump stocks, more funds are available for armed school resource officers. Perimeter security measures are being established around schools. New systems allowing the anonymous reporting of students (or anyone else in the system) displaying aberrant or dangerous behavior, making threats. etc. have been launched. School-specific ID cards have been generated to help detect unauthorized persons looking to enter the campus and allow them to be more quickly identified. While not enacted yet, some schools are looking at metal detectors.

That must have the Parkland kids from that big march in D.C. pretty happy, right? Rarely do you see your demands met with such a rapid response. But as it turns out, most of them aren’t all that thrilled. In fact, some are complaining that they feel like they’re returning to a prison rather than a school. (CNN)

Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School return to class Monday, their first day back since organizing one of the largest youth-led protests in US history. But these teenagers won’t be returning to a normal high school experience. Instead, they’ll be met with strict security measures which are intended to protect them from another mass shooting but have some students feeling as if they’ll be learning in a prison.

“Going to school is really so hard, and now it’s going to be so much worse,” said Isabelle Robinson, a senior. “A lot of the people I’ve talked to are dreading going back.” …

“It feels like being punished,” Robinson told CNN. “It feels like jail, being checked every time we go to school.”

When classes first resumed two weeks after the shooting, Principal Thompson told students not to bring backpacks at all while they focused on their emotional health and not the curriculum.

This appears to be a case of idealism (or, if you’re more cynical, some astroturf which passes for it) crashing into reality. Being either outraged or frightened at the number of school shootings, or at least the media portrayal of how many there are, is a perfectly normal reaction for a teenager. Asking to be more secure in both their homes and their schools is also completely understandable. But increased security comes at a price, and that may include inconvenience or disruption to your normal schedule Most of us would love to be able to sail through the airport quickly and still make our flights like we did back in the 90s, but in the post 9/11 world that was no longer the reality.

I’m not trying to shame these students for being in a snit over having to use clear backpacks, wear ID tags or any of the other measures being put in place. They’re teenagers and we shouldn’t expect them to roll with the punches as an adult would. These things develop over time and as they mature they’ll probably understand the response to their demands with a bit broader perspective.

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