POINT OF VIEW: Politicians, put yourselves in Parkland survivors’ shoes


“You don’t realize how much of a toll (gun violence) is taking on our cities until you see it in our communities, you see it on kids you know, you see it on someone like me.” — Mya Middleton

Last weekend, I attended the tremendous rally led by student survivors of one of the deadliest school shootings in American history. March for Our Lives was a global phenomenon, with heartbreaking stories and empowering speeches from children as young as 9 being broadcasted throughout the world.

Create your own user feedback survey

The message was clear: enough is enough. “Thoughts and prayers” aren’t going to make the cut anymore — only substantive action is acceptable.

RELATED: Editorial: Thoughts and prayers won’t stop these mass shootings

I interviewed three Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students during my visit to Washington, D.C. “It was very surreal,” said Isaac Christian, a sophomore. “I knew I was going to be safe because I wasn’t as close to the shooter, but it hit close to home and I was very scared.”

Junior Randi Patregnani said, “When we were in the classroom, we heard kids screaming and gunshots flying everywhere.” She took a breath and her eyes began to water. “One girl pulled up the news on her phone, and that’s how we knew what was going on. We said good-bye to our families.”

Another student, who asked not to be named, added that “everybody in the closet was crying and shaking. I was just in the back offering people snacks.”

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post weekly Opinion newsletter: Pbpo.st/opinionsignup

Each student provided a unique response when describing their experience. However, all three still came to the same conclusion: they were afraid. As human beings, it was in their nature to fear for their lives or the lives of others. We all only have one life, after all. Most of the news articles I’ve read considering this topic so far have mainly focused on the need for stricter gun laws. While it is important that we address the law in an effort to reduce these horrific events from occurring, I also believe that we all should have a more humanistic point of view when facing this issue. These individuals had their own personal share of wretched emotions. When hearing the gunshots echo throughout the hallway, they weren’t thinking, “If only our lawmakers could find a way to prevent this from happening.” They were thinking, “My school is being shot up and I may die.”

All three of the interviewees’ responses has resonated with me in their distinct way. But Patregnani’s especially left an impact. As she explained how she and her classmates were texting their families good-bye, my heart felt like it was sinking into my stomach. I could only imagine the pure dread those kids felt as they thought about the possibility of a bullet blasting into their body. Even as a survivor, anyone, let alone a student as young as 14, would be a victim of that emotional trauma for the rest of their life. Statistics show that nearly 200 school shootings have taken place in America since 2000, with a variety of ages either dead or possibly suffering from extreme stress and anxiety due to such a horrendous incident. The students of Douglas High are survivors who were significantly affected — to such an extent that they are willing to rise up and demand a change for kids all across the nation to be saved from the physical, emotional and psychological anguish that they suffered.

With that said, I’m reaching out to not only the general public, but politicians, lawmakers, and congressmen. I sincerely ask you to take at least one minute to keenly think about the tragedy that just took place. But instead of worrying about what political party you identify with, at least try to identify yourself with these teens. Think about the times you’ve spent in school, and how you would’ve felt if you were in their shoes, sprinting alongside your classmates in order to dodge an oncoming bullet. After doing so, maybe, just maybe you will acquire a completely different perspective on the matter. you will hopefully realize that students all across the nation are calling out for the security of a place intended for their growth. And hopefully, you will finally open your eyes and see not just the future of America, but thousands of imperiled children looking back at you.

KAELA NICHOLLS, BOYNTON BEACH

Editor’s note: Nicholls, 16, is a sophomore at Lake Worth Christian School in Boynton Beach. She wrote this for The Palm Beach Post.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Fraternity video exposes crumbling decency in society

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. — Courage isn’t required to condemn the Syracuse University chapter of the Theta Tau fraternity for simulating a sexual assault on a disabled student. Video of this ape-ish display, now in wide circulation, should horrify anyone with an ounce of decency. That is, assuming people still recall what decency is. After the...
Commentary: Raising legal age limits won’t solve gun violence
Commentary: Raising legal age limits won’t solve gun violence

A national debate over gun violence has erupted in the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Unlike past mass shootings, grieving and evidence-gathering have been superseded by fervent demands for gun control, with a particular emphasis placed on increasing age limits required to buy certain weapons. Under...
Commentary: Let pre-18 teens register to vote
Commentary: Let pre-18 teens register to vote

Along with turning up the heat in the national debate over gun laws, the horrific attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14 has introduced the nation to a new generation of articulate, passionate teenagers. Days after watching classmates get gunned down in their school, the Parkland massacre’s young survivors confronted...
POINT OF VIEW: A chance to get pension reform right

There is a crisis looming that has the potential to dramatically affect both the retirement benefits of millions of retirees as well as multiple states and communities. I am referencing the Multi-Employer Pension Plan crisis. What is a MEPP? They are pension plans collectively bargained (i.e., union pension plans) maintained by more than one employer...
Palm Beach Post editorial cartoon Wednesday, April 25
Palm Beach Post editorial cartoon Wednesday, April 25

CARTOON VIEW SIGNE WILKINSON
More Stories