Gun Violence in the U.S. — How do Students at Waltham High School Feel?

Gun Violence in the U.S. -- How do Students at Waltham High School Feel?

Samantha Adourian and Rachel McIntyre, Staff Writers

Do you feel safe in school? In response to escalating school-related gun violence in the United States, how safe do students at Waltham High feel? It’s no secret that school shootings have been increasing in U.S. and according to The Washington Post, “school shootings in 2020-21 soared to the highest number in two decades.” Post data states there have been 373 school shootings since 1999. As a result, we’re interested in how students at Waltham High are feeling about it. We asked a total of 36 random students in the hallway and cafeteria questions regarding their feelings towards our school’s safety. 

What grade are you in? 

  • Freshmen 61.1%  
  • Sophomore 11.1% 
  • Junior 5.56% 
  • Senior 22.24% 

On a scale of 1-5 how safe do you feel in our school (1 being lowest, 5 being highest)? 

  •  2.78% said 0
  •  2.78% said 1
  •  13.89% said 2
  •  47.22% said 3
  •  27.77% said 4 
  •  5.56% said 5

Have you heard of the rise in gun violence, especially in schools? 

  • 91.67% answered yes
  • 8.33% answered no

Do you think stricter gun laws are necessary? 

  • 88.89% answered yes
  •  11.11% answered maybe

Do you remember the series of bomb threats we received in elementary/middle school?

  • 100% answered yes 

Does the possibility of a dangerous situations happening while in school affect your learning? 

  • 69.44% answered yes
  •  30.56% answered no

After asking a few kids to elaborate, here are the answers…

  • Anonymous: “ [I feel] scared, I don’t want to die. You can’t only have 2 police officers to protect thousands of kids.” 
  • Anonymous: “Anyone could die, you don’t know whats going on.”
  • Anonymous: “It’s scary to think that at any moment someone can just pull out a gun. And yah we have police officers at our school, but there is hundred of students and only a few of them.” 
  • Anonymous: “Almost anyone can get a gun these days.” 

A lot of students don’t feel safe at school, and they are often times distracted by the idea of possible danger.

— Samantha Adourian & Rachel McIntyre




In the online survey we asked students to look into the past and dig up any memories they had from the series of bomb threats many of us experienced during our elementary school years and for some early middle school. After asking students how they’d feel if they received a threat similar to that now (present day) these are some of the responses…



  • Anonymous: “I think they would scare me a lot more now that I know and understand the severity of them.”
  • Anonymous: “It’s scary to know what could happen and that people feel its necessary to send those threats to schools.”
  • Anonymous: “Way more scared than I was back then. Back then I didn’t really understand the concept of what a bomb threat was, that it wasn’t artificial and there was a person behind the threats. If that occurred now, with the gun climate we’re in, I think we’d all be way more stressed than we were as kids.”
  • Anonymous: “Very terrified.”

After reading through only a few of these responses it became clear that the potential threat of danger runs through the minds of students at Waltham High daily. Shortly after completing some hallway interviews, we were lucky enough to run into Mr. Villafane, Student Supervisor at Waltham High, who sat down with us and told us a little more about the actual security of the building. 

We asked Villafane how the idea of possible threats of danger affect how he does his job. “Yes, it makes me more alert to the shady stuff,” he replied. He also made a note that he wanted to remind the students that the building doors are secured at all times. When we asked him how safe he felt in the school he provided us with the number five on a scale of one to five indicating that he feels completely safe.

We also gathered responses about what would make students feel safer at school. A lot of them said “I don’t know” and even “nothing.” However, a few of the more detailed responses said…

  • “Maybe more police officers.”
  • “Real talks about gun violence. ALICE feels like an eerie, stale, unempathetic gesture. No one is made to feel safe by those drills and it’s time to address the actual issue instead of formulating ideas on how kids can save themselves.” 
  • “Stricter weapon policies.”

Final Thoughts

A lot of students don’t feel safe at school, and they are often times distracted by the idea of possible danger. Perhaps instead of the default for being distracted in class being phones, maybe we should take a deeper look into the reasons behind it and uncover just how safe we really are. We need to discuss supports for coping with the stress of prevalent violence in society and the rising incidences of school-based gun violence, specifically. Staff and administrators should talk more about the drills put in place and look into doing what they can in order to help students feel safe in school.