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Sep 2, 2019 11:14 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Students Voice Their Concerns About Returning To School In Climate Of Gun Violence

Hampton Bays High School FILE PHOTO
Sep 4, 2019 10:04 AM

As September rolls around, many students start to get excited about the new school year in front of them. The first day of school comes with the reunion of friends, new classes and an eagerness to learn.

But for some kids, the first day of school also means the return of an aching fear — of getting shot.

The echoes of acts of gun violence in the country have changed the dynamic of how students go about their lives in school, and the level of safety that they feel within their learning environment.

School, for most, is supposed to be a place to learn and develop important life skills and knowledge. However, with the current climate of gun violence, many students’ opportunity to learn is being hindered by fear of the thought of acts of gun violence occurring in their schools.

“I am always a little anxious about returning to school in general after the summer break. However, with the increase in school violence, I feel that my anxiety regarding school is much more prominent,” said Lila Swezey, a rising junior at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor.

Lila said that, if a shooting were to occur, she fears that she might be targeted because of her Asian heritage: “As a person of minority, these acts of violence provoke a feeling of fear in me. It scares me to think that it could be me getting attacked because of my race.”

“I used to be worried about returning back to school, especially since there was not much security and were not enough practice drills to help us if somebody came into the school with guns,” added Katherine Parash, a rising sophomore and a former attendee of Southampton High School.

This past month, two deadly mass shootings took place in El Paso, Texas, and in Dayton, Ohio. These two recent occurrences brought the specter of gun violence back into the spotlight and back to the attention of students.

“I am honestly kind of scared to go back to school … my school’s homecoming dance almost got attacked by a shooter last year … Thank God it didn’t, though,” said Sofia Skolberg, a rising sophomore at Southampton High School.

Last year, a homecoming party at Southampton High School was the target of a gun violence threat. Three males posted a photograph to Snapchat of themselves inside of a vehicle posing with a device that appeared to be an assault-style rifle. The threat was reported by school security to the police.

The police arrived at the 110-person after-party and issued a lockdown of the event. More than 20 police personnel, including State Police and Southampton Town Police, equipped with AR-15 rifles and two K-9 units, assisted the Southampton Village Police in securing a perimeter around the campus and closing off the entire street, The Press reported at the time.

“The whole event was really frightening, and it gives you perspective into what people are capable of,” Sophia said.

Some students interviewed noted that the catalyst of their fear is mainly due to the levels of security at their school.

“My concern was whether or not we had enough security guards or practice drills to help us if someone came into the school with guns,” Katherine said.

The students have also shared ideas on how their school administrators and student body can implement safety drills and better educate students about what precautions can they can take.

“I believe that my school should include more lockdown drills and have more security. This would make the students feel more safe and possibly [reduce] violence related stress on the students,” Katherine said.

Student Sophia Seda, a rising junior at Brentwood High School, said she believes the best way to reduce gun violence in schools is by providing psychological help to students who are struggling. “The school is always trying to involve the security guards, but it never helps … The best way to help is to attack the problem from the source … Many of these shootings derive from students with mental illnesses … It is best to offer and promote mental help to whoever needs it,” she said.

Sophia Skoldberg said she believes kindness is the foundation that society must lay down to prevent more acts of violence in schools. “I think we should all be nice to each other and spread kindness,” she said. “A lot of school shootings come from bullying, so it is important that we are nice to everybody so violent impulses are not embedded into students as a result of bullying.”

Lila believes that self-advocating and reporting of suspicious activity is the best way to solve the issue of gun violence in schools. “It is important that we know the proper safety procedures, are smart about what we post on social media, report threats or suspicious activity online or in general,” she said. “It’s important to stay educated about the world around us, and the people. It’s also important to be aware of what’s going on and how you can help.”

Zoe Gordon, a rising senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has had firsthand experience with gun violence. On February 14, 2018, the school was attacked by a former student, Nikolas Cruz, who carried an semi-automatic AR-15 rifle into the school, killing 17 people and wounding 14.

Zoe’s views about how schools should ensure the safety of their students aligns with the views of the local students.

“Schools should have officers present before, during and after school to ensure that if violent activity does erupt, it can be halted immediately,” she said. “Additionally, schools should have mental health resources available to all students to ensure that no student feels the urge to take their anger out on others.”

However, having experienced gun violence at her own school, her views on how students can prevent violent attacks differ slightly from those on the East End.

“Unfortunately, in the country we live in, it is not quite easy for students to prevent possible violent activity, because mass violence isn’t predetermined, and most do not feel the urge to encourage changes in their school security until after such an act happens to them,” she said. “However, it is vital that students talk to their school’s administration and county officials to compromise on solutions that will make them feel safe in school.”

All of the students interviewed, including Zoe, have strong feelings about how the government should handle gun violence and what laws could be put into place to ensure students’ safety.

“The government should be thinking about major reforms,” said Ian Hubbard, a rising senior at Hampton Bays High School. “Assault weapons shouldn’t be available to civilians. They are simply not necessary for civilian use.

“Also, the ability to buy a firearm should be restricted by a mental test. If people claim that guns aren’t the issue, it’s the people’s mental health or a violent culture that video games have instilled, lowering the youths’ value of life. We can significantly prevent guns from being used for malevolent intentions by creating a test that mentally and morally sound people can pass.”

“There definitely needs to be background checks on anybody who owns a firearm or who is planning on purchasing a firearm. I believe red flag laws could also be helpful in preventing gun violence,” Sofia Skoldberg said.

“The government definitely needs to employ stricter gun laws into the system so students feel safer,” Katherine added.

“I may be extreme, but I find it necessary that the country bans assault weapons from the hands of the common people,” Zoe said. “Assault weapons, like AR-15s, are military-grade weapons and should not be so attainable for the public. Additionally, it is vital that the country reforms various gun laws, including stricter background checks for obtaining a weapon, and raising the age limit to ensure that a weapon does not easily end up in the hands of a teenager.”

However, the students all said they are firm believers that children and other students, as well as themselves, are capable of change. They noted that living in such an influential time where the voices of the youth are accounted for, it is possible to make large changes in the country for what they believe in and for the general safety of others if everybody chimes in.

“Students will make the most effective change in laws about gun violence by making their voices heard,” Zoe said. “Truly, you never think such a horrific act of terror will happen to you or a loved one until it does, and that is why it is vital to demand a stop to this never-ending cycle of mass shootings. Students have the capability and power to make their voices heard by staying informed on local and national politics and by addressing concerns to those in authority.

“If you don’t demand action, then no one will.”

Isabelle Friedberg was a high school intern for The Press this summer.

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If the students are that worried about violence, they should do something about it. They know who among them is a gang member or who is struggling with other issues. STPD or the school could easily set up an anonymous tip line or server. Not a complete solution but a start. The persistent, knee jerk liberal stance is to take away guns from law abiding citizens but it is the wall of silence that allows the violent individuals to walk freely among them.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Sep 7, 19 10:16 AM
1 member liked this comment
Reinstate the Sullivan law:possession of an illegal gun gets u 5 years, no parole.EZ to control illegal guns and leave 2 amendment alone!!!
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Sep 7, 19 10:33 AM
These students should be carrying guns to protect themselves
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Sep 7, 19 12:55 PM
You have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than you do getting killed in a school . There are 40 shootings average a weekend in Chicago and nobody talks about it. This is a concoction made up by the media.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 7, 19 2:04 PM
Why do you think those gun homicides, or the many more gun suicides, get as much attention as mass shootings?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 7, 19 2:26 PM
As a senior citizen I am horrified by the mass shootings. Growing up there were many mental institutes on Long Island and up state NY. Many have been closed and have no funding.
There are many mentally unstable people with no facilities to help them They are sent to a hospital and released soon after.
New York and Chicago have the strictest gun laws and the highest crime rates.DC is just as bad. All,all people must pass a back ground check by the FBI to purchase a firearm now. Gun shows ...more
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Sep 7, 19 4:04 PM
We protect anyone important with guns. Oh and jewelry. Just not our kids.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Sep 8, 19 5:33 AM
Racism on the left.No one cares about the minority kids' murders in ghettos,just the shootings of non-minority kids at schools.Hypocrites.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Sep 8, 19 9:07 AM
If you don't care about urban gun homicides, are you racist too?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 8, 19 6:47 PM
Taz, utter nonsense. I for one am against any murders or suicides. Right wing/nra Talking Points. If there’s a mass killing, the dead have zero recourse. All the disingenuous info to back up and deflect what the problem is. It’s guns, and the availability. The mental health argument is weak at best. Does the USA have a higher degree of mental health issues then the rest of the world? I don’t think so. Video games causing it? No research backs up the fact. Others countries have ...more
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 8, 19 9:39 AM
What r u doing in inner cities?NOTHING.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Sep 8, 19 9:50 AM
Taz, here’s a hint. I’m not a politician. What are you doing about it, other then using it to back up your weak talking points. Strict gun laws in Chicago, where are all the guns coming from? Mostly right next door in states with lax guns laws. What am I doing? I don’t have my head buried in the sand . Keep up the rhetoric, it’s weak at best.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 8, 19 10:14 AM
Left deflecting,as usual.No "strict gun laws in Chicago"for illegal guns. Enact SULLIVAN LAW:5 yrs in jail for illegal gun possession.But u only want to take my guns,solves nothing.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Sep 8, 19 10:23 AM
Doing nothing solves nothing. Keep towing that line. Doing nothing means you are ok with it all
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 8, 19 10:30 AM
Doing the wrong thing makes things worse.Have a nice day.I'm going to the shooting range to enjoy my 2A rights.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Sep 8, 19 10:52 AM
Doing nothing solves nothing.have fun at the range. Cooling weather makes me want to go skeet shooting.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 8, 19 11:02 AM
Until they confiscate your rifle or right to shoot one because a nut went off on a rampage.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Sep 8, 19 11:19 AM
Doing nothing solves nothing
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 8, 19 11:40 AM
What if we do a little more hand-wringing?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 8, 19 6:48 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Sep 9, 19 9:09 AM
I don't care if every citizen had 500 guns in their closet why do people continue to shoot each other? We have a very sick violent societee it's not the guns it's the people and the way we're raising kids
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 9, 19 2:05 PM
If every citizen had 500 guns in their closet, we'd probably have a lot more shootings. Right?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 9, 19 2:24 PM
Chief1, one big cop out.
Doing nothing solves nothing
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 9, 19 2:28 PM
Taking aw as y guns fixes nothing
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 9, 19 4:38 PM
Chief, and doing nothing solves nothing. Try a little harder.. if you are happy with mass murders, you might not be on to something. The shrug with palms up is lame.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 9, 19 4:41 PM
What has changed with our society that has produced the maniacs that have done the mass shootings? It's not that there are more guns, 4o years ago damn near everyone had guns in the home and in the back window of the truck in the high school parking lot. What changed?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 9, 19 5:09 PM
False: there are more guns.

"According to the Congressional Research Service, there are roughly twice as many guns per capita in the United States as there were in 1968: more than 300 million guns in all." Guns In America, By The Numbers. January 5, 2016, NPR.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 9, 19 5:13 PM
There are more guns on the streets and they are more deadly now than ever before in the last 40 years. Look at the stats in countries that have passed gun laws. Facts don't lie!
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 19 9:53 AM
I will take the words of the following people 10 out of 10 times over The Obama’s, The Clinton’s, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bill DeBlasio and the rest of the liberal hacks:

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined..."
- George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress, January 8, 1790
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776
"I prefer dangerous freedom ...more
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Sep 9, 19 7:36 PM
And yet they still kept ordnance and weapons of war in an armory. Didn't see everyone keeping a Gatling gun on hand when they were invented, now did you?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 10, 19 5:03 AM
Thomas Jefferson wasn't walking around with an AK47. Wake up!
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Sep 10, 19 9:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
Times change. Smoothbore gun, two or three shots a minute. Military style assault weapons have to go to stop the carnage. It's all very simple, vote out NRA backed right wing nuts and it's a done deal. You hold the power to make owning a gun a privilege and make those who want one to jump through more hoops. All you have to do is vote. Getting rid of Agent Orange lackey Zeldin is first step. We will give special exemptions to Wild boar hunters, any around here? Doing nothing when we have an epidemic ...more
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Sep 9, 19 9:14 PM
But what has changed in our society that has people shooting up places of worship, of work and of education?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 10, 19 6:31 AM
A Dirty Ex-Cop-Turned-Gun Dealer Fueled Brutal Violence on the Mexico Border
A gun-trafficking case involving ex-law enforcement exposed the lie at the heart of Trump's race-baiting over the migrant caravan.
By Francisco Alvarado
Dec 12 2018, 1:38pm
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 10, 19 6:41 AM
Good Lord fred, stop repeating that lame "do nothing solve nothing" statement. Why use an obvious scenario to try and prove a point? Does not make any sense whatsoever.

And it's not the guns. Guns don't just go walking in and firing away. It is ALWAYS an individual who has one of the following. 1. Absentee parents, 2. Single mom, has been 3. bullied repeatedly, or a 4. societal loner.

That covers it. The shootings in Chicago, 1 and 2, school shootings, 1,3, and 4. Delaware 1 and ...more
By Bayman3142 (249), Southampton on Sep 10, 19 10:16 AM
You seem to express support for waiting periods and red flag laws.

The only snowflakes opposing those things are the republican ones.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 10, 19 11:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Batman, first learn to debate without name calling. Did I say ban anything? No.every persons life experiences unfold exactly how you describe it. Maybe sometimes. You have a good idea about licensing. Should check the person out thoroughly.political correctness has nothing to do with murder or mass murder. Save your pseudo macho bs for someone else.snowflakes is pretty weak
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 10, 19 11:14 AM
Another comment that is a drag.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Sep 10, 19 12:25 PM
Freddy, show me where I called you a name, was it snowflake that offended you? Generally speaking a blanket statement that strikes a cord with an individual has some merit to it. You statement makes little to no sense.

"No.every persons life experiences unfold exactly how you describe it. Maybe sometimes." What? Reread my statement. Was I talking about "EVERYONE"? or did I refer to the mass shooter/shooting incidents? And where pray tell do you see some "psuedo macho bs"? Please explain. ...more
By Bayman3142 (249), Southampton on Sep 10, 19 4:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Switzerland has about .25 guns per citizen and America has about 1.2

The Swiss also have mandatory military service, right?

The only people opposing waiting periods and red flag laws (two items you appeared to support beforehand but backed away from as soon as I pointed it out...I wonder why?) are the snowflakes on the right.

Everyone else considers it better to be safe than sorry if your family, neighbors, or coworkers think you shouldn't have access to a gun.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 10, 19 4:37 PM
these gun advertisements are really working - so many suckers just spending, spending, spending, all in the name of good ole' freedom. America: home of the consumer slaves.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Sep 10, 19 4:41 PM
Batman, pseudo macho bs, calling someone a snowflake. Implying your tougher is some way because I don’t agree with you. Grow up. I realize there are many scenarios involved in all cases involving guns and violence. But to do nothing and say the status quo with guns and violence is acceptable is ludicrous.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 10, 19 4:41 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Bayman3142 (249), Southampton on Sep 11, 19 12:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
I don't have a problem with someone's weekend at the range being ruined by their neighbor if it's based on a reasonable fear that they are a threat to other people.

I get it, Bayman. Your toys are more valuable to you than strangers' lives. I just disagree.

You may dislike when numbers don't say what you want, but it remains true that there are almost five times as many guns per capita in the US where, unlike Switzerland, not everyone served in the military (in other words received ...more
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 19 4:58 AM
“So please stop with the ban this ban that and start with the problem. Political Correctness and snowflakes.” That’s your statement, which contradicts your statement above.political correctness and snowflakes. Grow up and look at the problem. All the mass murders had a few things in common. They were human beings, they killed people and they used guns. Not a 100% , but the vast majority. I agree with your solutions, it’s a start. But you have to go back to your same old bs ...more
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 11, 19 6:57 AM
A polluted snowflake at that.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Sep 11, 19 7:26 AM
"Polluted snowflake"?
Thank you for your name-calling!
It shows who you are.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 19 7:49 AM
Freddy, again, WHAT?

"All the mass murders had a few things in common. They were human beings, they killed people and they used guns. Not a 100% , but the vast majority"

Did I state the mass murders were conducted by anything other than human beings? Perhaps animals? Aliens? Bad tofu? And you can not state "All" and then back off with "not 100%"....is it "All" or is it sometimes?

As far as my P.C. and snowflakes statement, 1. I never backed off it, and stand by it. ...more
Sep 11, 19 9:09 AM appended by Bayman3142
Um, freddy, did you see these above? Or did you just not understand. "(Sources: "Eric Harris" writing, "at least we know why the Columbine killers did it" slate magazine, the Columbine papers, time magazine, the Columbine tapes, time magazine.)"
By Bayman3142 (249), Southampton on Sep 11, 19 9:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think you're conflating the "thin blue line" and "blue shield of silence": one assumes you care about innocent lives, while the other assumes you're more interested in covering for your buddies.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 19 11:51 AM
A nation that celebrates the right to kill a child in utero certainly has a warped sense of what value life has, is it surprising that some whack jobs raised with this drummed into their heads go off the rails and take lives too?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 11, 19 3:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Nobody who gets an abortion is "celebrating" it.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 19 4:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
Batman, you provided no citations, why should I ? Keep up your nonsense.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 11, 19 9:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
September 11, 2001

...no guns involved
By loading... (601), quiogue on Sep 11, 19 9:58 AM
And lots of changes to laws in the name of security followed, right?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 19 11:47 AM
A new cabinet position was created because of it, billions spent on enforcement and preventing more terrorist attacks. What exactly is your point. We haven’t done the same with curbing gun violence.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 11, 19 12:04 PM
Yes, most of which the liberals complained about. Patriot Act much? Or what about the complaints about surveillance on some of the mosques where anti-American hatred was being spewed constantly?

Save it Foreign. You and your ilk is what ails this country. Patriots try to make it hard for terrorists...liberals like you try to make it easier for them.
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Sep 11, 19 12:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thanks Diseased! I think you are what ails America, too!

For one thing, you can't accept the simple fact that LOTS of laws were changed after 9/11 which makes it a terrible example of why we shouldn't change any laws in the aftermath of mass shootings. It's like pointing out that cars kill more people than guns but failing to realize that cars require insurance, licensing, registration, etc.

Secondly, why do you have a need to get personal with comments about me and "my ilk"? ...more
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 19 12:44 PM
Diseased, you and your ilk whine about Facebook and google. They get more of your personal info then anyone. Can you point out where I complained about the patriot act? Of course you can’t. You keep saying you are more patriotic then other people, which is completely foolish. A difference of opinion doesn’t mean you are not patriotic. Keep trying,
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 11, 19 12:22 PM
No. It’s because I’m sure you’re talking to people you know... or possibly don’t know today about your whereabouts on 9/11/01 and how we should “never forget”. But at the same time, most of your arguments are pro illegal immigrants rights in lieu of safety for the Americans that are already here. Nobody wants to hear 9/11 stories or “never forget” stories from people who hate our president and hate this country and the laws that are written in the ...more
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Sep 11, 19 12:54 PM
I'm just glad that people are spending their time here commenting on the internet like true americans - we truly are a nation of exceptional people.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Sep 11, 19 2:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Diseased, again show me where I said anything about open borders, good luck.again, a difference of opinion isn’t patriotic. What’s tiring is you saying you are a super patriot. Your the greatest
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Sep 11, 19 3:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
You never said anything about open borders, Fred.

Diseased ascribes those political beliefs to you because it's easier to refute them than what you actually believe.

It's called a straw man and Diseased is very familiar.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 11, 19 10:01 PM
Fred, I wasn’t responding to your post. I was responding to foreigns post. What day you all about Trump’s momentum in handcuffing the notoriously liberal 9th circuit? Especially in regards to sanctuary cities. This all ties together with my 9/11 argument. Trump is doing what is right for the safety of the American people. That’s his job and he should be commended for it. Instead we have bleeding hearts out there who think otherwise and don’t care about our safety.

Charlie ...more
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Sep 12, 19 8:51 PM
You were talking to me? When did I talk about my whereabouts on 9/11?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Sep 13, 19 6:41 AM
I can type words into a box on a glowing rectangle : )
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Sep 11, 19 3:22 PM
1 member liked this comment