Detroit Today: Do students feel safe amid rise in school shootings in America?

Students from Metro Detroit high schools discuss how their academic lives have changed as school shootings increase in the U.S.

A group of women pray at a memorial at the entrance to The Covenant School on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.

A group of women pray at a memorial at the entrance to The Covenant School on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.

On Monday, three children and three adults were fatally shot at an elementary school in Nashville, Tenn. The tragedy occurred as many in Metro Detroit are still grappling with the mass shooting occurring on Michigan State’s campus, only one month prior.

But this is the reality many students face in the U.S. There have been 175 deaths from school shootings since the Columbine massacre in 1999. These events happen so frequently in our nation that some now label young people as part of the “mass shooting generation.”

Three students and a teacher from Metro Detroit high schools sat down with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to give their perspective on safety in schools and how the threat of gun violence impacts their lives in the classroom.

“And at the end of the day, it falls on the people that are making these laws…they’re [guns] just too accessible for everybody.”  — Xavier Choussat, Birmingham Seaholm High School Junior

Listen: How Metro Detroit students are reacting to school shootings


Xavier Choussat is a junior at Birmingham Seaholm High School. He says the only way to create a safer school is to reduce access to guns.

“I don’t feel like there’s too much that schools can do to stop these shootings from happening, because if someone really wants to do it, they can,” Choussat told Henderson. “And at the end of the day, it falls on the people that are making these laws, and guns are just — they’re just too accessible for everybody.”

Amier Nelson is a junior at Oak Park High School. He says things will not change until people take action.

“So my take on the gun violence, I really just don’t care,” says Nelson. “Because it’s not going to stop. Just because you talk about it doesn’t mean it’s going to stop. You got to actually put something into action. Because talking about it — it’s just spreading the word around. But spreading the word around is not going to stop anything.”

Issac Hunter III is a sophomore at Cass Tech High School. He says he feels safer in classes when the teacher is stricter.

“I feel like once you get to the point where your teachers [are] strict and you’re learning, it’s nothing really going to happen in that class,” Hunter shares. “But other classes where it’s more lenient — where you can talk a little bit on your phone a little bit more — I feel like that’s where all of the problems happen.”

Bill Boyer is a social studies teacher at Oak Park High School and president of the Oak Park Educational Association union. He believes the reduction in long-term, qualified teachers has also impacted school safety.

“If we’re going to minimize [and] reduce student violence, then it has to come with community building that makes teaching an attractive profession,” says Boyer. “There’s no supervision that’s really needed in this time and age that you get from teachers who are highly qualified — who are aware of social emotional learning.”

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  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.