I immediately clicked on the link and read the accompanying Associated Press story, learning that the shooting had occurred at a middle-school bus stop that morning.
As I digested the news, a confusing wave of emotions swept over me.
I was saddened by many things, obviously. First of all, I was deeply depressed that the student doing the shooting was only 13 years old and that he reportedly didn't know why he did what he did. Also, he hurt four other children, who suffer now with physical wounds and will possibly suffer mental anguish in the future. That makes five very young lives which have been severely affected by this incident, not to mention the hundreds of others who will be affected indirectly (including friends, families and teachers of the children involved).
As I read more of the article, though, the quotes from friends of the shooter jumped off the page at me. "He had a lot of friends." "He comes from a really good family." Authorities have learned that the student belonged to quite a few school organizations, including a teen Christian group. What!? A student goes on a shooting spree at his school, and he isn't anti-social? Isn't a goth? Doesn't fit the stereotypical profile of a killer that so many school officials across the country have compiled in the post-Columbine months?
You can see my confusion. As a good child of America, I have been told to look for these signs of impending violence in my classmates. What am I to look for now? The Bible-study group member with a loving two-parent family and lots of Bible-study-stable-home friends? Dear Lord, save us.
Sarcasm, obviously. Could my rant be considered anti-social behavior? Possibly. Is it insensitive to people involved in shootings such as this? Perhaps, though it is in no way intended to be.
I refuse to remain silent in the face of one tragedy -- elimination of students' rights, and stereotyping -- because of another. My peers and I are sick of being victims of unconstitutional practices just so we are not victims of violence. Safety is important, but not important enough to reduce students to sub-humans with no rights.
Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating said in a statement regarding the shooting that this incident "must serve as a wake-up call" to address "the root causes of what is happening to our families and young people." How perfectly ironic; I could not have said it better myself. America needs to wake up to the fact that prohibiting blue hair or posting the Ten Commandments in schools will not stop student violence. Short-term solutions like these must be discarded so we can work to find the true answers to this problem, whether they be social or psychological.
Things have to change -- or else we risk losing more of the youth of America, either because of guns or because of complete loss of faith in society.
Whitney Hampson is a student at Palmer High School. She is 15 years old.