Parkland victim’s father: Traumatized students shouldn’t have been flung into politics

After the Parkland shooting, there was a maniacal emphasis on hashtags and photo-ops. My community never got the help it needed to actually heal.

More than a year has elapsed since 17 students and staff were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, including my 14-year-old daughter, Alaina. But even now, our community is still experiencing the aftershocks of the attack.

Over the course of just one week in March, two more MSD students died, this time by suicide, adding to the horror of this senseless and preventable tragedy. Shortly after the Parkland suicides, the father of one of the 20 first-graders killed in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, took his own life as well.

In the days immediately following the Parkland shooting, before the families of the victims had processed the magnitude of their loss, a cadre of vocal students, fueled by the news media frenzy, focused on political action. They marched, peddling a bromidic elixir of political prescriptions.

Read more commentary:

Flashback: Here’s what it was like to watch my friends die in Room 1216

I moved my kids from Florida to New Zealand, only to need to explain mass shootings anyway

While the sense of political urgency from students was understandable and in some ways admirable, it came at the cost of a focus on the health and healing — for the families of the victims, students, teachers and the community at large.

Mismanaged media frenzy

The lack of focus was recently highlighted by MSD teacher Kimberly Krawczyk, who bravely spoke out about the failure of the school district to address the trauma experienced by students and teachers. She cited a lack of trauma training for counselors, a lack of privacy for grieving students seeking help, and an almost maniacal emphasis on hashtags, photo-ops and political protests. All of this left many students, teachers and staff to question whether or not they were being #MSDStrong.

The politicization and media-frenzied response to the murders overwhelmed and eclipsed the real, personal needs of the survivors and their loved ones. To be blunt, the cacophony of voices on gun control drowned out and suppressed a needed conversation on the mental health needs at the school and in the community. For that failure, our community is paying a heavy price.

The causes of mass casualty incidents, and therefore the solutions, are far more complex than they first appear. In fact, it took the commission tasked with investigating the MSD tragedy almost one year to detail its findings in a more than 400-page report.

Warning signs leading up…

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