Mental Health

A Shot in the Dark: A New Stress Factor for Gen Z

School is difficult for nearly everyone. Exams, quizzes, assignments, projects, the list goes on and on. However, Generation Z has to battle with another, more terrifying, stressor: school shootings. 

Many people from Generation Z, classified as those who’ve grown up with technology and don’t quite know the effects of 9/11, have been constantly exposed to school shootings, an ever-growing problem in the U.S, in their adolescence. According to statista.com, K-12 school shootings have been steadily on the rise since 2010, the year with the highest number of shooting incidents, at 118, in 2019. Thankfully, with the spread of COVID-19 and the closing of schools, the frequency of these incidents dropped; in 2020, the internet raved about the ‘first March in years’ to go without a single shooting. Though, the number of occurrences had only dropped by a small number, to 113.

With the increasing number of school shootings, many students are now exposed to a higher chance of becoming a victim. Social media and news channels only reporting on shootings with high death and injury count, fear and apprehension among students and teachers are to be expected. However, to what extent are students affected by these incidents? 

Approximately 3 out of 4 (75%) of Gen Z reported school shootings to be a major stress inducer while around 56% believe that it can happen to them while at school. Out of these people, 21% of students place shootings as a constant source of stress at school. (apa.org, 2018) 

Even though the news has stopped reporting on school shootings, it doesn’t prevent Generation Z from viewing these tragedies online. Not only can the constant stress impact the student’s performance in class, but the mental pressure, along with normal school stress factors, is also difficult to juggle. Those who have had experienced a shooting firsthand have high risks of developing PTSD, anxiety, or depression, and those who haven’t could also develop anxiety from constant worry about their safety at school.

Due to the coronavirus, K-12 school shootings had dropped a minuscule amount, and many Gen Z students had done school online. However, with the reopening of schools and public places, school shootings are now a prominent stressor in student’s daily lives. Increased security seems to have the opposite effect on student’s mental health, 22% stating that it increased their stress levels and 41% stating that it made no difference. 

As the school year starts back up, it is time to consider and create new solutions in taking the correct measures that would put students at ease and give them a safe place to learn and grow. 

Sources: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2018/stress-gen-z.pdf

https://www.statista.com/statistics/971473/number-k-12-school-shootings-us/

Categories: Mental Health