In Their Own Words: Christian Teens on School Shootings

Maina: “I got to tell you it was different for me as an adult, on the outside, Todd, your youth pastor and I, grew up in the ’90s, not that long ago, and it was different to see your generation video it. I don’t know about you Todd, but that was an eye-opener for me because typically when we see shootings, we don’t see them videoed, usually. How do you guys feel about that seeing that on TV, because normally we don’t see it on TV, usually. What were your thoughts about it when you saw people your age using their cell phones to video it?”

Tyler: I thought it was kind of crazy, I mean I’ve never been through anything like that so obviously I have no idea what’s going on through their brains but if something like that was happening to me I don’t think my first instinct would be to video it, you know? So I think it’s really weird to see that’s what they thought to do. I’m not judging them of course but I don’t know what was going on in their heads, like what they were thinking, what they were feeling, why they were videoing this horrible thing that happened. And I think that because cell phones and social media and media in general is just so high-rated now that when you see that on there it just hits so much closer to home because in the past you’d hear about a shooting and you’d be like, oh yeah there was a shooting, that’s horrible, that’s awful, we should do something but you’ve never seen it happen so being able to see it happen it just makes the whole experience a little different.”  

Maina: “Did it bring it a little closer to home to you to see it on video?”

Andres: “I think about two years ago, the Columbine video tapes were released and a couple of my friends were showing it to everyone because somehow they found the video on the internet…And they were showing everybody and it’s definitely hard to see, I mean there’s the sound and everything and you can hear everybody crying and screaming in agony and it’s horrible to watch.”

Maina: “But once again, back to Todd and I, that was in ‘98 when Columbine happened and we are just getting the videos like now.  With this one here, with this latest incident, we got it that afternoon, which was different. Do you think there’s anything that church leaders like Todd and myself and others, is there anything that we can do to help students understand, deal with school gun violence?

Tyler: “I think they just have to fully 100 percent be there for their students because going into something like this, when we went to Breakthrough last weekend, one of the speakers, there was a panel for high school students to go in to listen to and ask questions, and one of the panel leaders is a youth leader down in south Florida where this happened and that school is five minutes from his church. So he had his students come in that Wednesday night. They didn’t know what to do; they knew people there, some went to school there. And he just talked about how that entire night turned into a prayer night for his students, a prayer time for the families of the people who were affected by it. I don’t think there’s anything that church leaders can do to change the situation but just being there for their students and encouraging them and letting them know that God is ultimately in control and has a plan for all of this is the best thing that you can do.

Maina: “Well, Todd I’m going to put you on the spot. Do you think there’s anything that youth leaders and pastors or church leaders, can do to help with school gun violence?”

Todd:  “I would say that the biggest thing that we really need to do is we can always look at the younger generation and we kinda make fun or poke fun but we need to empathize with what they’re going through with what they’re feeling. For Rylee to say ‘I’m scared to be at my school’ then that’s a serious problem. And so we really need to empathize with what’s going on and again you can turn this and flip this is so many different ways but when it comes to it, like Tyler said, we need to be there to love, to encourage and support the different things that they think about and they go through.”

Maina: “We’re not going to ask any of you but we are going to ask about your friends though, is that fair? This next question, did any of them walk out in the 17 minute walk out deal?  And what did they tell you how they feel about that and what did you hear?”

Rylee: “Going back to the whole media thing, I had a friend who I have known since about 6th grade and we’re still friends to this day and that is a God blessing…..”

Maina: “And what grade are you in now?”

Rylee: “I’m a 10th grader. And her friendship has been such a blessing to me but she was one of the people who walked out of class today and she had a sign with her, actually…..”

Maina: “People brought signs to these things also?”