Disturbing school-shooting hashtag goes viral

London Delgado at a vigil held in the wake of a deadly school shooting at Santa Fe High School on May 18, in Galveston, Texas. (Photo: Stuart Villanueva/the Galveston County Daily News via AP)

We’re five months and 22 school shootings into 2018, and America’s students are well aware of that fact. Shooting number 22, which occurred Friday at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, motivated 18-year-old college student Andrew Schneidawind to start the hashtag #IfIDieInASchoolShooting. As he told Teen Vogue, “Now is the time for me to step up. Now is the time for me to do something.”

And do something he has  — the hashtag was created on Sunday and has already been used more than 50,000 times.

Schneidawind told Teen Vogue he fears school shootings every day — and he is far from the only student to think that way.  The sentiment, captured in the hashtag, has caught on with students all over the United States who are now using #IfIDieInASchoolShooting to express fear, anger, and political opinions.

Some are using the hashtag to bring awareness to those who have already died in school shootings. “#IfIDieInASchoolShooting I’d get to see Carmen again,” Emma Gonzalez tweeted this weekend, referring to Carmen Schentrup, her friend who was killed in the Parkland, Fla., massacre. “#IfIDieInASchoolShooting or any shooting, I want to be buried right next to my brother,” March For Our Lives speaker Zion Kelly wrote.

Even teachers are joining in.

“It’s so sad and so tragic that our kids are thinking that way; it really speaks to how commonplace these shootings have become. And it has terribly changed our youth’s attitudes,” Barbara Greenberg,  PhD, a clinical psychologist specializing in family and youth issues, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. But she does see the positive in the viral nature of this hashtag. “Kudos to these kids for making a really collective and powerful statement.”

“There are a lot of messages here,” Greenberg pointed out. There’s the fact that the students are speaking out, but there’s also the reality that many of the students are resigned to cynicism and fear. “I worry about them; I worry about kids being resigned to the fact that, yes, they might go to school and die. I worry about their level of anxiety and their level of hopelessness,” Greenberg says

This is far from the first time America’s students have expressed fear about guns in the classroom — as evidenced by both the March for Our Lives and the #MeNext movement. #IfIDieInASchoolShooting is just the latest social media movement, but it’s one that is bringing front and center to our feeds the terror that students live with daily.

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