What It Is Like To Teach In The Age of School Shootings

How do you walk back into a classroom again?

school shootings
Active shooter drills in school have a new name. (Joe Raedle/ Getty)
Getty Images

It has been two decades since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold ushered in the era of modern, high-profile, high-causality shootings with their massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado. Just 10 of the nation’s 135,000 or so schools have experienced a school shooting with four or more victims and at least two deaths since then, but those 10 shootings have had an outsize effect on our collective psyche writes The New York Times. It is easy to see why: Afterwards, we are left with the specter of children being gunned down in mass while at their own schools.

The people at the quiet center of this recurring national horror are teachers. They are both victims and emergency response workers. They often have close connections to those killed, the school and the shooter. But The Times writes that they are also, almost by definition, anonymous public servants who are used to placing their students’ needs above others, which ultimately means they are left suffering. Trauma teachers face after school shootings is “severe and enduring.”

“Their PTSD can be as serious as what you see in soldiers,” says Robert Pynoos, co-director of the federally funded National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, which helps schools coordinate their responses to traumatic events, according to The Times. “But unlike soldiers, none of them signed up for this, and none of them have been trained to cope with it.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.