Emotions were still raw fears still too real as students and teachers returned to the scene of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez was there as they made their emotional return.
Somber faces and a heavy police presence marked the students’ attempt at a return to normalcy. Close to 3,000 went back to Marjory Stoneman High School for classes, two weeks after a former student opened fire and killed seventeen people on campus.
For most, it was not an easy morning.
“I’m really nervous to go back, I don’t want to go back at all,” one student said. “I don’t feel safe at school anymore.”
Many students said that to feel safe, they need to see some type of gun control changes, whether in the form of mental health reform, background checks, or anything else.
The students mourned their friends, classmates and the feeling of safety they once found at school.
“I think it’s going to be good for everyone to try and get started back into a normal routine,” a student explained. “That is how it should be, but it’s going to be hard.”
A stream of well-wishers tried to ease the difficult return. Hundreds of off duty police officers, from here in Florida and as far away as New York City, came to show their support.
“You could see the pain in a lot of their faces,” according to Rod Skirvin of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association. “But when I handed a kid a flower, it immediately brings a smile.”
This first day back was about healing. Grief counselors therapy dogs were on site. Most of the kid said they won’t let this tragedy define them.
“I mean we have to go back strong, but it’s still a little bit fresh,” a student said. “But we have to keep going and move on.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott introduced a $500 million proposal to keep students safe, which includes a law enforcement officer in every school, more training for school personnel and an expansion of mental health services for students. This is only a local initiative, however.
These students will continue their national fight for gun control with a mass protest planned next month in Washington.
Security specialist Paul Michael Viollis on US gun reform
CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke to Paul Michael Viollis on the public response to gun violence and gun reform in the U.S. Viollis is a security specialist and the CEO of Viollis Group International, a consulting company.