What Canadian kids should know following a deadly shooting at a Texas school

Story by CBC Kids News • May 26, 2022 (cbc.ca)

Canadian schools are safe, experts say


  • This story contains details some readers may find distressing.
  • If you find this topic distressing, ask an adult or someone you trust to read it with you.
  • A deadly school shooting happened in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.
  • In total, 21 people died, mostly kids.
  • It’s normal to feel scared after hearing news like that.
  • But experts say schools in Canada are safe.
  • Keep reading to understand more. ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

People are coming together to show support for the victims of a tragic school shooting that happened in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this week.

The news is hard to digest: On May 24, 19 kids and two teachers were killed when an 18-year-old walked into a school and shot them.

If you go to school every day, you may be wondering if you’re safe there.

“Just because something possibly could happen doesn’t mean it probably will happen.” – Rebecca Pillai Riddell, child psychologist

Canadian schools “are safe places,” said Rebecca Pillai Riddell, a child psychologist at York University in Toronto.

The truth is that school shootings have happened in Canada, but they are extremely rare. Experts say that’s largely because Canada has very strict gun laws.

What happened in Uvalde, Texas?

A map showing, Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Uvalde, Texas

Uvalde is home to about 16,000 people and is located about an hour’s drive from the border with Mexico. (Graphic design by Philip Street/CBC)

On Tuesday, the 600 students at Robb Elementary were getting ready to celebrate the end of the school year.

The attack happened in a fourth-grade classroom.

These are the students and teachers who are being remembered. (Image credit: Family handouts/Reuters)

The person responsible for the shooting was killed by a Border Patrol officer at the school.

Police are still investigating to understand why the shooting happened.

Since the tragic incident, people have come together in person and online to remember the victims and share their grief.

Texas singer and actor Selena Gomez is one of many celebrities who have spoken out.

A tweet from Selena Gomez. Today in my home state of Texas, 18 innocent sudents were killed while simply trying to get an education. A teacher killed doing her job; an invaluable yet sadly under appreciated job. If children aren't safe at school, where are they safe?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed sadness on behalf of all Canadians.

A tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: My heart breaks for everyone affected by the horrific shooting in Texas today. I'm thinking of the parents, the families, the friends, the classmates, and the co-workers whose lives have been forever changed - Canadians are mounrning with you and are here for you.

‘Just wrong,’ says U.S. president

There have been 27 school shootings in the U.S. this year.

Politicians and celebrities are calling for stricter gun laws to prevent these incidents.

“Why do we keep letting this happen?” asked U.S. President Joe Biden in a speech following the shooting.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to the media following the shooting in Uvalde on May 24. (Image credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

Part of the reason is something called the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which dates back to 1791.

It means that Americans have the right to own and carry guns.

Glenn Hanna, a former RCMP officer who teaches about crime at Ontario’s Guelph-Humber University, said that right was born out of the American Revolution, which took place more than 200 years ago, from 1775-1783.

During that war, people took up arms to fight for independence from the British.

“That is their culture, to always have arms, to be prepared to overthrow a government that has gotten out of control,” said Hanna.

Guns are part of their “cultural makeup,” said Wayne MacKay, a retired law professor at Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University. 

“Having guns is a basic individual right” for people in the U.S., he said.

But many in the U.S., including politicians and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, are calling for the laws to change.

A tweet from Kim Kardashian: There is no excuse or justification for what happened yesterday. The current laws in our country around gun control are not protecting our children. We have to push law-makers to enact laws that are fitting in today's world.

“The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a store and buy two assault weapons, it’s just wrong,” said Biden in his speech. “What in God’s name do you need assault weapons for but to kill someone?”

Assault weapons are the kinds of guns that are often used in wars, which allow the shooter to fire multiple bullets one after the other.

But many Americans see stricter gun laws as infringing on their rights, and some politicians have been blocking the laws from changing.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the shooting was a mental health issue, not a gun issue.

How safe are kids in Canada?

The most recent shooting at a school in Canada happened in February at a high school in Scarborough, Ontario, in which one person, an 18-year-old, was targeted and killed.

But that was the first deadly school shooting in Canada in six years.

Overall, experts say schools in Canada are safe from gun violence.

Why? Well, it’s very difficult for anyone, not just young people, to get guns in this country.

A sign with the names of the victims is held during a vigil on May 25 in Uvalde. (Image credit: Marco Bello/Reuters)

Specifically, Canadian law makes it difficult to have assault-style weapons, “particularly multiple firing kinds of weapons, of the kinds that are often used in these tragedies,” said MacKay.

In Canada, anyone who wants to own a gun has to go through several steps that take time, such as taking a course, getting a licence, having a background check and registering your weapon.

All guns have to be stored safely so they can’t be easily accessed.

People who want a handgun have to have a specific reason for it, said Hanna.

Most people in Canada own guns for hunting purposes, said MacKay, such as rifles.

Feeling scared? That’s normal

Rebecca Pillai Riddell, the child psychologist, said it’s normal to feel scared, anxious or even angry when you hear news like this.

It will never make sense that bad things happen, she said, and it’s OK to talk about it with an adult and share your feelings, but she doesn’t recommend dwelling on it.

“Just because something possibly could happen doesn’t mean it probably will happen,” she said.

People stand in a circle holding hands.

Members of the community gather at the City of Uvalde Town Square for a prayer vigil to honour the victims. (Image credit: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

If your feelings last several weeks and prevent you from doing normal things in your life, you may want to speak to somebody about it, like a parent, teacher or even the Kids Help Phone.

If you want to do something positive, there are plenty of options, she said, like hosting a bake sale to send funds to survivors, creating a TikTok video to raise awareness, or starting an online petition.

Here are some tips for dealing with sad or scary news:

Have more questions? Want to tell us how we’re doing? Use the “send us feedback” link below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

With files from The Associated Press, CBC

CORRECTION: The original version of this article said that February’s school shooting in Scarborough, Ontario, was the first deadly school shooting to happen in Canada in nine years. In fact, the school shooting at La Loche Community School in La Loche, Saskatchewan, happened six years ago, in January 2016. Thank you to one of our readers in Grade 6 for pointing out this error.

(Contributed by Carol Harvey)

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