Thank you Amnesty International for sponsoring this post.

Year after year, whether it be from complete strangers, or friends I always get the same questions when it comes to teaching. People often ask me about my favorite parts in the field, my least favorite parts, and of course about any horror stories. I just started my ninth year as a high school English teacher in NYC. I’ve worked in three different high schools, including a Title I school in Brooklyn for five years, and I don’t have any real horror stories.

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What I do have, on the other hand is an actual fear, that I don’t often voice. My biggest fear being a HS teacher in NYC, is the possibility of having a mass shooting within my school building. This is a real fear I’ve had for years, and it has only grown with the increased amount of mass shootings that have occurred.

In the middle of the 2017-2018 school year there was a major school shooting in Florida that struck a major chord across the country. NYC schools weren’t in session at the time, therefore I had a few days to gather my thoughts and words as further information was released. When I walked into school that Monday, it was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had to have and I realized that no amount of time would be enough to prepare me to have that talk.

I was met with questions and confusion, but the most heartbreaking part was the fear. The fears these 14 and 15 year old students had that I couldn’t lay to rest, because I also felt the same fear. The hardest part about being a teacher thus far, is not just trying to explain these tragedies to my students, but explaining how nothing substantial is being done to prevent it from happening again. I was proud of them for participating in the walk out, I was proud of them for taking a stand, and I was ashamed that we as a nation weren’t doing better to protect them.

As a developed industrial country, it is truly absurd that gun violence is still such a major issue. It is not simply an issue for the government to handle, or for politicians to discuss in their speeches, it is a human rights issue. We shouldn’t be normalizing school shootings, and both children and teachers shouldn’t be in school buildings fearing being killed. This is a reality that we have come to accept. Shootings in schools, on the street, playgrounds, music festivals and more have become a daily part of our lives.

So what is the issue? What is the real problem? Is it that people have become more violent? The truth is there is an increased rate of gun ownership which has led to easier access by people that may misuse them. The US is failing to meet its obligation to protect and promote our human rights.

Because of this, Amnesty International has declared the gun violence in our country to be a human rights crisis, and I couldn’t agree more. The US government is being called to protect our human rights by taking the necessary actions to address and reduce the immense increase in gun violence. This is the example we need to set for our children, and this is what needs to be done to prevent future school shootings.

So what can you do or how can you help?

There are bills being campaigned all across the country by Amnesty International that would require measures to help stop the sale of illegal dangerous guns in the state. In addition video surveillance would be used outside of dealerships, as well as prohibiting new gun dealerships from opening within 500 meters of schools. This would not only help to increase safety in the communities, but particularly making it safer for kids.  Besides that, a particular bill is also being campaigned to stop illegal gun trafficking in Illinois.

You can learn more about Amnesty International’s latest report on gun violence here. Besides just learning more I suggest you take action and sign the petition to stop the spread of illegal guns and save lives. We don’t need another school shooting, or hashtag to make us want to take action. Being proactive is the only way to effectively put an end to gun violence, and school shootings once and for all.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Hey there! I’m Melissa, co-founder of Trials n Tresses, natural hair and beauty lover, binge tv watcher and lover of life. When I am not creating content for TNT, I’m busy teaching the future of society.