Student Voices on the Surge of School Shootings


Photo from creinehr via under Creative Commons

The arbitrariness of a school shooting. This was exactly the case in Saugus High School because no one saw Nate Berhow as a threat since he was socially and academically involved in his school. "I think the school systems should pay more attention to the mental health of their students and put that first," junior Anisha Prashanth commented in response to what the school system should do to prevent school shootings.

Minakshi Shivananda, News Editor

The Recent Tragedy In California

An unfortunate tragedy struck Santa Clarita, California in November 2019, when a student at Saugus High School opened fire which resulted in the death of two teens and wounded another three teens. Nathaniel Berhow, the 16 year old shooter, did not target the two students who died, Grace Anne Muehlberger, 15 , and Dominic Blackwell, 14. The cops recorded the shooting at around 7:38 a.m.,  as the offender’s mother had just dropped her son off when the unfortunate incident occurred. He made his way to the quad area and started shooting at random students around him. He then proceeded to shoot himself in the head. The entire incident lasted a brief 16 seconds.

Fortunately, the entire school body followed the active shooting drill they had practiced a couple of weeks prior to their shooting, which they had never anticipated on doing anytime soon. As the pictures of students walking out of Saugus High School released, the expressions depicted the shock and trauma the entire school went through. It never would have seemed to happen to them.

The students who were shot, wounded, and the shooter himself were taken to a hospital. Unfortunately, Muehlberger and Blackwell succumbed to the gunshot wounds, as well as Nate Berhow.

The utmost terrifying part of this incident is that it could happen anywhere, including South Forsyth High School. 

Senior Caleb Tew stated,”I wouldn’t be surprised if a school shooting happened at South, but I’m not afraid of one happening at South either. I trust the police officers and administration to deal with any threat in a safe way.”

Background into what caused the event

After this shooting, many people pondered upon the idea of who could have committed such an act. Nathaniel Berhow was not a teenager that appeared troubled or disturbed; he was a typical student unlike the teen shooter in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been expelled from the school prior to the shooting. Berhow wasn’t a loner according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villenueva in an exclusive interview with CNN. He was involved in school activities, such as sports and clubs. He had many friends as well, which made it seem impossible for him to have committed such a heinous crime. He was even involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, which are large organizations that train young boys to become better citizens of this world. 

Junior Anisha Prashanth reflects upon the importance of mental health support for teens”I think we should also focus on the shooters, usually they do such things because of social issues such as bullying or pressure etc. I think the school systems should pay more attention to the mental health of their students and put that first,”expressed Junior Anisha Prashanth as she reflected upon the importance of mental health support for teens.

Her stance has proven true in the case of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho. According to his mental health records, he did not show many signs of homicidal or suicidal thoughts. However, he was admitted to a psych ward because a roommate was concerned that Cho would take his own life. Additionally, one of Cho’s professors referred him to the Cook Counseling Center, where he spent such a short amount of time, no true diagnosis was made. The center released him from counseling, citing that he was fine. His lack of misdiagnosis and interpretation of social behavior led to the events at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, the deadliest school shooting known to date. He killed 32 people, and then took his own life.

Berhow’s father passed away on December 5, 2017 which seems to have been an integral part of the circumstances of the shooting. In an interview, his friend also disclosed to KTLA-TV that Berhow’s father made bullets, which some suggest is where he got the ammunition to go on the rampage.

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It seems to me that most shootings are the results of mental illness and lashing put from bullying, so I guess more attention on those things.”

— Emily Yin

Investigators also discovered a deleted Instagram account with the following post the day before the shooting:

“Saugus have fun at school tomorrow.”

Before Instagram officially took down the questionable account, it was not clear if a hacker had deleted it or a friend of Berhow’s had deleted it for him. Later, Buzzfeed confirmed that the owner of the account was not Nate Berhow since Instagram was able to disable it and confirm that it did not belong to the shooter. This raised many flags for other students and cops investigating the circumstances of the shooting, but ultimately was a false alarm.

A bigger problem in our midst

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think there should be a lot more gun control and regulation than there is now. These frequent shootings are a call for action they can’t just be ignored something has to change. ”

— Anisha Prashanth

According to, the United States has the highest amount of guns in the world, nearly 393,347,000 of them. 

Freshman Emily Yin voiced her opinion on the matter:”I think people should be allowed to have guns as defense, but laws for buying and having them should definitely be stricter. It’s easy for a lot of kids to buy guns and get a hold of their parents’.”

A short background check and going to the local Walmart is all an individual has to do to obtain a hazardous weapon. Many  believe that the Second Amendment is more in reference to people during the Revolution, when America was first becoming a nation. Our circumstances today are vastly different than the America of the eighteenth century, we don’t need to protect ourselves from a tyrannical monarch and we have learned to live peacefully among each other. People who oppose gun control advocate for the use of weapons as a means of defense against criminals.  This debate about gun control has been going on for the past century and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

A student who wishes not to be named, disclosed, “I feel gun laws need to be more strongly enforced. Take the country of Japan, for example. They require intense background checks and require a gun safety and violence course before being able to be permitted to use a gun.”

Although this revision of gun laws plays a role in stopping school shootings, emergency preparedness also matters. Forsyth County has made it a point to address school safety, postering its schools’ classrooms with instructions for what to do in the event of a school shooting. Schools also practice Code Red drills. The County has also made multiple videos to inform students about the matter. By being prepared for the worst, we are only benefiting the schools and students in our community.

Video used from Forsyth County Schools via YouTube under fair use.