Gun violence awareness and protocol

According to the Sandy Hook Promise, every day, 12 children die from gun violence in America, while another 32 are shot and injured. Whether these children experience gun violence in schools, like the 338,000 students since the Columbine school shooting, or outside of school, gun violence affects many.
But students do not need to be directly involved with gun violence to be affected.
At Plainfield South, there are procedures in place in the event a situation with gun violence arises, but they have been gradually changed in recent years due to the incline in school occurrences. As of February there have already been more than 70 mass shootings across the United States this year, according to BBC.
“The law will have changes too, about what the schools are bound to do, so that protocol gets tweaked along the way,” Plainfield South Assistant Principal William Bicker said.
Administration at South understands that even drills can bring panic to students despite having the knowledge that they are in place as a preventative measure against acts of violence.
Bicker says that the biggest change he sees is the fact that students have to participate in lockdown drills, noting that they are stressful for a lot of students.
“[Lockdown drills are] a very stressful thing for a lot of students. To me, I see that as the biggest effect. It’s this idea of something you have to be aware of,” Bicker said.
Many students of Vianca Davis, South’s Catalyst Coordinator, come from Chicago where they have been exposed to more gun violence than is typically seen in the suburbs near Plainfield. The biggest way she sees her students’ lives affected is the trauma that gun violence inflicts on the brain.
“They come in already with really deep traumas that we need to identify and try to help. In that realm we get to talking about how trauma affects the brain and how when somebody is exposed to something that traumatic, it really does stunt the development of the brain. Gun violence is one of those huge things that we are seeing more and more as families are migrating from the city down over here,” Davis said.
Plainfield South encourages students to seek out resources in and outside of school to effectively cope with traumatic experiences such as gun violence.
“Whatever you need to do to help with that trauma, whatever resources we can provide as a school, but then also outside resources that you can use. As a school, we’re here to support any students that go through any sort of trauma, so we can help not only deal with that, but also make sure that it doesn’t affect their schooling and their learning,” Bicker said.
Although the school provides resources, different students show trauma responses in different ways. Davis wants everyone at South to be aware of how students are individual in their responses and coping mechanisms.
“I feel like staff members don’t all understand that there is a reason behind that really rough and just hard personality, and a lot of those reasons are really sad and really heartbreaking,” Davis said “I just wish people can see these kids through my eyes because I think they are just so great.”
For students who need additional help dealing with gun violence trauma, the Suicide and Crisis Hotline is available to text or call at 988 or visit at This is a free and confidential service available to all and is able to help victims of ongoing gun violence trauma.