Viral Twitter thread explains why adults need to take action.
In light of the horrific Florida school shooting, it’s easy to feel frustrated and helpless beyond belief. Our government and president don’t seem to have anything to offer except thoughts, prayers, and other extremely vague platitudes. And — as a recent viral thread proves — that hideous inaction not only affects our psyches, but those of our children as well.
Heather Booth, a freelance editor, opened up on Twitter about a tragedy that struck her own school growing up, and the important, practical measures that were put into place as a result.
In 1995, an Illinois commuter train slammed into a school bus, killing seven students, and leaving more than two dozen injured. Booth recalled the aftermath of heartache, shock, and grieving that followed — much like what students and families experience after school shootings.
Nothing made sense. Over the days and weeks that followed, we went to vigils, wakes, and funerals. We openly wept in the hallways. People who had never spoken before embraced, clinging to each other. We felt broken. 2/— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
People said the things that are being said now. “I put him on the bus and sent him to school. He was supposed to be safe.” Classrooms were rearranged so the empty desks weren’t a constant reminder. 3/— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
Time went on, and though the shock subsided, the sadness was still there.
Time passed. We started living with loss, but we still startled at the noises that reminded us of that day. We were now people that THIS had happened to. 4/— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
More time passed. I did the memorial layout in the yearbook. By then, our shock and raw pain had changed to anger and questioning. Why did this happen? What went wrong? Whose fault is it? Investigations, we learned, were ongoing. 5/— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
And now here is where the story takes a turn from the school shooting narrative. Clear-cut action was taken and officials actually stepped up to the plate to make sure that flaws in the system were fixed.
“The thing that upsets me most–we teach our kids to learn the importance of accountability.” National Transportation Safety Board Chairman James Hall said at the time, per Chicago Tribune. “In this accident, there was a failure of accountability by a number of organizations. This is the responsibility of the state and the school district. The state and the school district need to be responsible for ensuring kids’ safety.”
And — Booth explained — they owned up to that accountability. Big time. Their swift, calculated action sent a significant message to the children involved at the time.
29 recommendations were made by the NTSB and implemented from the local to federal level. Because this wasn’t a shooting. It was a train hitting a school bus. One train. One bus. Seven deaths. 24 injured. One year. 29 changes for 16 organizations. 8/ https://t.co/OxIjsyryQ0— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
And as kids, here’s what this meant: we saw something awful happen, then we saw adults support us, then we saw them make change happen to keep that awful thing from ever happening again. Now, I’m an adult who grew up having seen adults fix things. 9/— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
Think about the worldview we create for youth when their awful experiences result in nothing but hand wringing and despair. Thoughts and prayers. When a tragedy hits that’s far more deadly & far less accidental than what CGHS experienced in 1995 & *nothing* changes? 10/— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
What kind of lifelong scars do we inflict on youth when the adults who are there to protect them don’t force change in the wake of preventable tragedy? What kind of foundation do we lay when their world breaks and no one fixes it? 11/— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
Booth concluded by imploring adults to act like adults, and proactively look for solutions to fix this problem. Your children will take notice, she said.
I don’t care which avenue you pursue to change the scourge of gun violence against youth. There are plenty. Pick one. Do something. Call your reps. Donate. March. Volunteer. Vote. Force the issue. Empower teens. Don’t let them down. Make change happen. 12/12— Heather Booth (@boothheather) February 16, 2018
This powerful, deeply important thread has resonated with people everywhere. Many responded that they plan to step up and participate in the fight for action — which is kind of the best thing you could possible read amidst all of this horrible fog of gloominess.
Thank you, this is perfect. It reminded me, as a mother, that I have the responsibility to get involved. It’s not enough to just change the channel when the news comes on so the kids don’t have to see it. To cry in the car on the way home from work while listening to another— Jill D Nusbaum (@d_nusbaum) February 17, 2018
I donated today - I will donate again. I plan to #VoteThemOut ....I will do what I can to help so this doesn't continue to be the norm in this country.— Michelle Remus (@Michelle_Remus) February 17, 2018
So much applause to Booth for eloquently breaking down the effect that these unresolved tragedies have on our children — and reminding us that we can all do our part, no matter what that looks like for each of us.