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Mini-Documentary: Teens & Guns

Teens and Guns

Welcome to the StageofLife.com Mini-Documentary on "Teens and Guns."  This short video was produced for StageofLife.com by First Class Visual Media.  For the full teen trend report on the Teens and Guns national survey data and essay contest, please scroll down under this video to read the full details, get links to the teen gun essays, and view the statistics about teens and guns...



If you would like to comment or ask StageofLife.com questions about this Teens and Guns Mini-Documentary, please feel free to Contact Us

Gun Rights vs. Gun Control - Trend Report

High school and college students talk gun rights, gun control, mental health, media influence on violence, school security...and where we all go after the Newtown tragedy...

Gun debateThis is the teen trend report from the StageofLife.com addressing the national gun debate.  The data, survey results, trends, and essays were submitted by teens and college students during Stage of Life's Jan. 2013 national poll and teen and college writing contest that asked,  

"Where do we go after the Newtown school shooting?"

Guns and Teen Summary Overview:
  • VISITS:  7,525 teens and college students visited the StageofLife.com student writing contest during the month's writing prompt (January 2013) from across the US (all 50 states).
  • GUN ESSAY THEMES:  5 Major Themes were revealed in the issues teens discussed in their essays:  Gun control, gun rights, school security, no policy change from lawmakers, and media influence.  Jump to the Gun Essay Theme Analysis.

Background:  In the wake of the Newtown school shooting, we are faced with a reality that many of people want to change.  The tragedy brought another visceral reminder that something is wrong.  Newtown.  Oak Creek, WI.  Aurora, CO.  Fort Hood.  Virgina Tech.  And of course others...including tragic mass shootings that occur internationally.

Every day we hear soundbites from lawmakers, the gun lobby, mental health professionals, educators, media personalities, and others who have solutions for addressing what needs to happen to prevent another mass shooting.  Some advocate gun rights.  Others gun control.

Who's right?

What would you propose to Congress, parents, school officials, gun advocacy groups, or the NRA after the events in Newtown, CT?  Or, on a more emotional level, how do you simply feel about this event and what changes, if any, did it make in you?  And for everyone...where do we go from here?

We know that without an open dialogue and a place to share a variety of viewpoints, nothing will change.  StageofLife.com is one of the only non-partisan, non-religious, and non-politically founded personal-opinion-writing-platforms, so we asked these questions and welcomed viewpoints on this sensitive issue.

When writing your essay, we encourage you to frame the perspective from your current stage in life.  Please submit your essay and take our national gun survey below.  US resident and international essay submissions are welcome..


PART I - TEENS AND GUNS STATISTICS - SURVEY RESULTS

Statistics about teens' viewpoints on gunsBefore submitting their StageofLife.com writing contest essay, teens were asked to complete a survey about gun control and gun rights.  Here are the statistics from the survey on how teens feel about guns (see all student gun statistics from the national survey in the PDF download below)...
  • Students are split right down the middle (50/50) regarding their opinion on if people have a 2nd Amendment right to own whatever type of firearm they please
  • 56% of students feel 1st-shooter video games cause young people to become desensitized to violence
  • Conversely, 58% of teens do NOT feel violent music lyrics are a problem in our society
  • 70.6% of teens and students do NOT think teachers should be allowed to carry concealed weapons in school
  • Nearly 40% of students feel that mental health ranks as the "priority issue" in the wake of the Newtown tragedy when given the choices between mental health, gun control, school security, family issues, or addressing violence in games/music/media
  • 71.3% of students saw their school take a moment of silence after the Newtown tragedy (but nearly 30% of students reported their schools did not).
  • 50% of students, in the wake of Newtown, still feel "completely safe" at school.  Another 46% report "usually feeling safe, but sometimes I don't."   4% of students report feeling safe "rarely" or "never" at school.
  • Regarding America's laws on guns...
    • 10.1% of teens feel gun laws should be eased so that it's easier for law abiding citizens to own and carry guns both at home and in public
    • 13.4% of teens feel we should keep current gun laws "as is"
    • 56.4% of teens feel we should keep the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution in tact, but add new federal gun control laws to restrict the access to high-capacity ammunition clips or certain semi/automatic assault weapons, closing gun show loopholes, etc.
    • 18% of teens feel guns should be allowed only by the military and police - regular citizens should not have access to them
    • 2.1% of teens feel guns in all forms should be completely banned in our society
Teens and Books - Reading and Purchasing Survey DataTo read the full national survey results and see the statistics on teens and guns, click the PDF icon to download.


PART II - TEENS & GUN ESSAY THEMES

After taking the gun attitude survey, students submitted their "Where do we go after Newtown" writing contest essays to StageofLife.com.  From the qualifying teen essay submissions, several themes and trends emerged about how students feel about guns:

Five Teen Themes/Trends on Guns...

1.  “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”: While hundreds of essays conveyed sympathy and sadness at the horrid situation in Newtown, the majority of teens expressed this sentiment: guns are not the root of the problem, the person pulling the trigger is. Because of this, we need to find a way to better regulate people, not necessarily weapons.

2.  Gun Control vs Gun Rights: However, teens overwhelmingly agreed that these weapons are problematic and need to be better controlled. Most teens suggested an assault weapon/military-style weapon ban, stricter background checks, and psychological exams. Despite these suggestions, most teens agreed that not all weapons should be banned.

3.  School Security: Teens seemed split on whether or not they felt safe in school; they were also split on whether or not teachers should carry concealed weapons. Most submissions opted for metal detectors and armed officers in and in front of schools.

4.  Media: Video games, television, movies, and music—these teens were split on whether or not the gratuitous violence in these mediums was to blame for the seemingly sudden onset of violence in our society. Some teens suggested that news stations stop broadcasting about the killers of these tragedies to avoid giving them their “15 minutes of fame.”

5.  Mental Health: Lastly, almost all teens agreed that this tragedy was the result of a person who was mentally ill. Mental illness in America needs to be better prevented, treated, and educated, for those who are lucky enough to not have a mental illness...

...Speaking of Mental Health - read our supplemental editorial on "Mental Health and How Teens Use the Word 'Crazy'" from Stage of Life Editor, Michelle.


PART III - READ THE TEEN GUN ESSAYS

Teens and Guns - Essays and Statistics on StageofLife.comImmediately below, you'll find links to the StageofLife.com winning essay, our runners-up, semi-finalists, and hundreds of other essays from college students and teenagers about the gun control debate and Newtown shooting.  The "Where do we go after Newtown" essays have been divided into categories based on the main theme of the gun essay...

Please take a few moments to read an essay or two. If you have the time, make a comment on the responses you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their writing contest entry).

Stage of Life writing contest winnerTeen & College Essay Contest Winner:

NOTE - We received submissions on this writing prompt from all life stages and generations.  Here are the gun debate essay Contest Winners from our non-student bloggers...

Teen & College Runners-Up (in no particular order):
StageofLife.com student essay writers - Runners Up
  1. My Thoughts on Newtown: America, wake up by kat.talerico (Other western countries have invoked stronger gun control laws and saw their gun/murder rates significantly decline)

  2. My Thoughts on Newtown: So this is why I left The Old Country, an Immigrant Perspective by nive.raghavan (The second amendment doesn’t give you the right to kill with assault weapons)

  3. My Thoughts on Newtown: More Violence Isn’t the Answer by Inspired (This teen’s mom was the victim of a gun crime… but fortunately lived)

  4. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people by Lakea (68% of murder weapons are firearms)  

  5. My Thoughts on Newtown: Yes, we can find a balance between gun rights and gun control by telltheworld (Violence will always occur, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to prevent it)

  6. My Thoughts on Newtown: The rifle—my companion and another’s weapon by Winwinhh (This teen organized a response to the Newtown shooting in her all-girls school) 

  7. My Thoughts on Newtown: Why someone could shoot innocent people by ritamarino2090 (Lanza was a victim of his disorder—a lonely man)

  8. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are Not the Problem by Mind_of_BP (Focus on the people, not the guns)

  9. My Thoughts on Newtown: The shooter by rhiFTW (This teen “feels bad” for the shooter) 

  10. My Thoughts on Newtown: It’s a Human Problem by saraht314 (One in five Americans has a mental health issue) 

  11. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Change Through Tragedy by lindseythibault (People with mental illnesses need to better treated, not just medicated 

  12. My Thoughts on Newtown: Teach love, not hate by NCpollyCA (Teach people the value of a life) 

  13. My Thoughts on Newtown: Shooting from the Hip About Gun Violence by michaelhourahan94 (This teen reevaluated his position on violence in society)


StageofLife.com teen essay writers - Semi-FinalistsTeen & College Semi-Finalists (in no particular order):
  1. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Taxing Issue by wchung (Congress should tax the sale of guns)

  2. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns = Bloodshed by Ikraan (This Somali teen knows her homeland won’t ever be the same because of war)

  3. My Thoughts on Newtown: Futures Cut Short by Gun Tragedies by olivia (Other countries have really strict gun control, something we need too) 

  4. My Thoughts on Newtown: No guns, no gun violence. Simple logic by OliviaZZZ5 (The second amendment calls for a well-regulated militia, not a citizen army) 

  5. My Thoughts on Newtown: The road to recovery by codster7 (When we can buy guns on Craigslist, we’ve got a problem)

  6. My Thoughts on Newtown: Why schools are better off without guns by KelseyAN (The world isn’t divided into “good guys” and “bad guys”)

  7. My Thoughts on Newtown: What’s behind it all? by s_barnett (We have deplorable mental health resources in this country)  

  8. My Thoughts on Newtown: Action is Required by jcd14 (Mental illness is just like physical illness… but mental illness has a stigma)  

  9. My Thoughts on Newtown: The person behind the trigger by bridgette1 (This teen has a mental disorders, and resents the stigma that comes with it) 

  10. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Message for Gun Control and Prevention of Tragedy by C95 (Concealed officers and smart chips in guns would help prevent future tragedies)  

  11. My Thoughts on Newtown: Searching for “We” by MariaRose (The divided debate must come together to find a solution)

  12. My Thoughts on Newtown: Don’t fight fire with fire by EmiliaCristy (Violence doesn’t beget violence)  

  13. My Thoughts on Newtown: Horrified but not Shocked by flummerie (Schools and communities should be familiar with gun safety)

  14. My Thoughts on Newtown: We can’t blame the gun; we have to blame the people by CaseyBerg5 (Gun owners should be subject to random psychological tests)  

  15. My Thoughts on Newtown: When Seconds Count, the Police are Only Moments Away by n0stalgic (A person wouldn’t attack an armed school)  

  16.  My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people by K.A.Duncan (Anyone and everyone can be a victim of gun violence)  

  17. My Thoughts on Newtown: Tragedy will always exist by lvest (States should enact conceal and carry laws)

  18. My Thoughts on Newtown: Stop pointing fingers by bbigday (This teen knows there is no one solution; she just wants her sense of safety back)  

  19. My Thoughts on Newtown: Let’s Play the Game, Not Blame by Papples (Video games allow teens to release their aggressions in a fictional world)

  20. My Thoughts on Newtown: Reporting Gun Violence the Right Way by ErinnClaire (Stop sensationalizing violence)  

  21.  My Thoughts on Newtown: Desensitization by SEKOO (Violent video games desensitize us to death)




StageofLIfe.com writing contest submissionsAll Qualifying Teen & College Essays for the National StageofLife.com Writing Contest - "Where do we go after the Newtown school shooting?"

The essays below were written by Stage of Life teen writers for the January 2013 writing contest and are listed by "change" category:


Essays about Gun Control

  1. My Thoughts on Newtown: Violence Doesn’t End Violence by Danielle23 (All citizens should be banned from getting guns)

  2. My Thoughts on Newtown: Waking Up From a Dream by horsesrunwild34 (Gun rights need to be better controlled)

  3. My Thoughts on Newtown: America, wake up by kat.talerico (Other western countries have invoked stronger gun control laws and saw their gun/murder rates significantly decline)

  4. My Thoughts on Newtown: We are a Breeding Ground for the Sick by 15alpacas (Restrict access to semi-automatic weapons like the one Lanza used)

  5. My Thoughts on Newtown: This has to Stop Immediately! by krmurphy91 (We need stricter gun control, including a ban on assault rifles)

  6. My Thoughts on Newtown: People must be controlled by jkosacz (We need to stop the “bad guys” from getting guns)

  7. My Thoughts on Newtown: Who is to Blame? By RBrown201 (Tighter restrictions and gun control may help)

  8. My Thoughts on Newtown: Both guns and people are the components of an evil outcome by alicezchen (Buying guns nowadays is too effortless)

  9. My Thoughts on Newtown: Sensible Gun Control by MSMorris (Gun control should be enacted and school security should be increased)

  10. My Thoughts on Newtown: Should guns be banned in the US? by Dana Kongo (Guns should be banned—people have the choice to run from weapons like knives)

  11. My Thoughts on Newtown: Which is More Lethal, Mental Instability or a Firearm? by Caleb11Lombardo (People with mental illnesses or a history of violent crimes should not be able to own firearms)

  12. My Thoughts on Newtown: New Gun Laws are Needed by Jrollason (States need stricter laws and certain guns should be banned)

  13. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns Cause Problems by lauren013599 (Fewer guns means less violence)

  14. My Thoughts on Newtown: Nowhere but Up by BeautyIsLove_ (Revise the second amendment to reflect modern society)

  15. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun Rights Exposed by SunnyChopper (Remove all semi-automatic guns from public)

  16. My Thoughts on Newtown: CT Shooting by danilaporta (This teen calls for stricter background checks)

  17. My Thoughts on Newtown: Going forward with reliability by WcHersh (The government must protect its people)

  18. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are not evil, people are by JoeLapi (We need stricter gun laws)

  19. My Thoughts on Newtown: Not Everyone Should have the Right to Own a Gun by ataa (The US needs to prevent this from happening again)

  20. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after the Newtown school shooting? by isabellaruiz (All guns should be taken away—for good)

  21. My Thoughts on Newtown: America’s love for guns by Elhan (We need fewer guns, not more)

  22. My Thoughts on Newtown: Newtown and Violence by PWALL (Gun stores should limit who they sell guns to)

  23. My Thoughts on Newtown by swagnelli123 (Stricter background checks will prevent criminals from getting guns)

  24. My Thoughts on Newtown: Americans have to learn that they cannot take advantage of their freedoms by jayberg13 (Mental stability tests should be required to purchase a gun)

  25. My Thoughts on Newtown: What Happens Now? by Ceh1215 (Guns are not toys)

  26. My Thoughts on Newtown: Newtown Tragedy by sophiaml12 (Assault weapons should stay on the battlefield)

  27. My Thoughts on Newtown: So this is why I left The Old Country, an Immigrant Perspective by nive.raghavan (The second amendment doesn’t give you the right to kill with assault weapons)

  28. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Taxing Issue by wchung (Congress should tax the sale of guns)

  29. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Harsh Reality America has to Face by gslangner (The second amendment called for a well-regulated militia, not guns for self-defense)

  30. My Thoughts on Newtown: A policy issue by benai16 (Mentally ill people are more likely to have violence committed against them, than commit violence themselves)

  31. My Thoughts on Newtown: More Violence Isn’t the Answer by Inspired (This teen’s mom was the victim of a gun crime… but fortunately lived)

  32. My Thoughts on Newtown by worldwriter (It is easier to buy a gun than adopt a child)

  33. My Thoughts on Newtown by Kourtney Elchinger (Limit one gun per gun owner)

  34. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where Do We Go From Now? by cpartlow16 (The second amendment allows for guns for self-protection, not for assault weapons)

  35. My Thoughts on Newtown: Changing the 2nd amendment? by mburt21 (She wants to see the second amendment altered)

  36. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people by Lakea (68% of murder weapons are firearms)

  37. My Thoughts on Newtown: by Jake Chambers by chambersjake (Gun buying and owning process should be much longer)

  38. My Thoughts on Newtown: From the Government by Nadaramen (Stricter gun laws does not affect the second amendment)

  39. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun Regulation by stephkaselis (America should follow Japan’s gun laws)

  40. My Thoughts on Newtown: An Unnecessary Tragedy by bsmyth (We need tighter gun laws and regulations)

  41. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Loss of Innocence by mlatsko11 (We cannot prevent the sale of firearms, but we can make them harder to get)

  42. My Thoughts on Newtown: New Laws, New Ways by kirstin.bergen (Stricter gun laws will benefit all Americans)

  43. My Thoughts on Newtown: Preventing the loss of the second amendment by nmbialek (Stricter background checks won’t infringe on people’s rights to carry guns)

  44. My Thoughts on Newtown by nicole.shannon (Medical records should be accessed during a gun purchase)

  45. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Newtown Solution by GrantPaulus (Gun sale should be restricted to anyone who’s family member has a mental illness)

  46. My Thoughts on Newtown: Why? by kreyn433 (Tighter gun control laws may lower senseless killing)

  47. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Society Living in Fear by GabrielaLasa (The US is in the top ten countries for gun violence)

  48. My Thoughts on Newtown: Newtown shooting by CDaigle (People should undergo a psychoanalysis test)

  49. My Thoughts on Newtown: A change is needed by scross (Gun owners should be more responsible)

  50. My Thoughts on Newtown by maris77ss (The government must protect its people)

  51. My Thoughts on Newtown: Newtown School Shooting by KJoyce99 (Obama’s proposed plans will help America)

  52. My Thoughts on Newtown: Newtown essay by brittany.walker (Security needs to be more common in public places)

  53. My Thoughts on Newtown by Ashley Pires (Background checks should involve mental health screenings)

  54. My Thoughts on Newtown: What should happen after Newtown? by korinaelizabeth (The process to own guns should be more effective)

  55. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun law changes by samimae (The costs to enforce stricter gun laws will be worth it)

  56. My Thoughts on Newtown: How can we prevent such a tragedy repeating, and how it should be reported to us, the public by rosieq (This British teen believes all assault weapons should be banned)

  57. My Thoughts on Newtown: Something needs to change by miarms (This teen wants certain guns banned)

  58. My Thoughts on Newtown: Regulate gun laws by cperrino (Don’t fight violence with violence)

  59. My Thoughts on Newtown: How can we move forward? by shaniquelreece (Gun owners should be subject to monthly mental health screenings)

  60. My Thoughts on Newtown: More gun laws should be established by ekarlsson (“Laws are not going to fix the problem, although I believe they can help”)

  61. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after Newtown? by samuel leipold (We need a mixture of new gun control policies to help prevent this type of tragedy from happening again)

  62. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns = Bloodshed by Ikraan (This Somali teen knows her homeland won’t ever be the same because of war)

  63. My Thoughts on Newtown: Our Future, Our Country’s Future by hiren415 (This teen wants to see all guns banned, minus law enforcement and military)

  64. My Thoughts on Newtown: Does control lead to chaos? by kate9009 (Those purchasing guns should submit medical history)

  65. My Thoughts on Newtown: We need to move on and create fair laws on gun control by chrisguzman (A person’s mental stability and education level should be considered in a gun purchase)

  66. My Thoughts on Newtown: Newtown School Shooting by maryb_2231 (We need better gun control and school security)

  67. My Thoughts on Newtown by caitlynsullivan (The government should regulate gun control)

  68. My Thoughts on Newtown: Whose fault is it? by zmiller96 (People should have a license and be able to prove they are mentally stable)

  69. My Thoughts on Newtown: Yes, we can find a balance between gun rights and gun control by telltheworld (Violence will always occur, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to prevent it)

  70. My Thoughts on Newtown: Learning from this terrible tragedy by hootootj (Stricter gun laws will prevent future violence)

  71. My Thoughts on Newtown: Futures Cut Short by Gun Tragedies by olivia (Other countries have really strict gun control, something we need too)

  72. My Thoughts on Newtown: Being aware of little details might make a difference by aymarc12 (Restrictions on who can own guns may help)

  73. My Thoughts on Newtown: Do whatever we can to keep kids alive by duoduo.95 (Knowledge tests should accompany a gun purchase)

  74. My Thoughts on Newtown: Glocks are not the problem by zts456 (Tighter laws on illegal immigration may reduce gun violence)

  75. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun control by map16 (If gun control was tighter, it may deter some people from buying guns)

  76. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after Newtown? by terrenlesher (Prose about a victim of the shooting)

  77. My Thoughts on Newtown: Buying Back the Guns by bnm13 (Britain enacted a program where they bought back citizens’ guns; America should do the same)

  78. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go from here? by jlb49 (The second amendment is important, but we must consider our overall safety)

  79. My Thoughts on Newtown: Newtown Blog by melza.smith (When the second amendment was written, they never could have imagined the weapons we would have today)

  80. My Thoughts on Newtown: The cycle that MUST be broken by jen197 (Her friend was killed by a senseless act of gun violence)

  81. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after Newtown by RadBlazer300 (There is no reason anyone should have an assault weapon)

  82. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go from the shooting? by Trayshon (Gun violence education may help lower overall gun violence)

  83. My Thoughts on Newtown: Help Wanted by saralindsayy (Gun control is necessary to help make a better future)

  84. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Social Impact of Gun Privileges by AlexisTaylor (Gun privileges should be restricted)

  85. My Thoughts on Newtown: We need to stop this by arifamukith (Americans see death on a daily basis)

  86. My Thoughts on Newtown: Should we change our gun laws? by JennieMarieSanchez (Gun laws should be much stricter)

  87. My Thoughts on Newtown: Limitations of Gun Control by Brianna Hebert (People shouldn’t be able to handle guns before they are 21)

  88. My Thoughts on Newtown: My Opinions about Guns after the Newtown Tragedy by jasmine means (Guns can hurt, but they can also be useful)

  89. My Thoughts on Newtown: Is gun control needed? by Marlin’Dorantes (People need to strongly consider gun control)

  90. My Thoughts on Newtown: Should guns be prohibited? by yeya (Gun owners should be drug tested and take training)

  91. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun Control by Austin Norris (Bad background checks mean that people shouldn’t get guns)

  92. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns do not fire without a person behind it by MaitlynJaneBarton (This teen suggests limitations to gun ownership)

  93. My Thoughts on Newtown: Is gun control really controlled? by Alexxx_ (If gun control worked properly, mass shootings would not be a problem)

  94. My Thoughts on Newtown: Is there a way to control guns? by DaliaToribio (We cannot wait any longer to enact stricter gun laws)

  95. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun control by Erick (Gun control is needed to prevent future massacres)

  96. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are not Evil by wesleyallen (Guns should not be permitted in public places)

  97. My Thoughts on Newtown: What’s new to gun laws by abennett (Assault weapons belong on the battlefield)

  98. My Thoughts on Newtown: No guns, no gun violence. Simple logic by OliviaZZZ5 (The second amendment calls for a well-regulated militia, not a citizen army)

  99. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Shooting by jenicefos (Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have guns)

  100. My Thoughts on Newtown: Realizing the Problems by krsota (We have a lackadaisical attitude toward gun violence and that must change)

  101. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns should be restrained, not detained by JessicaCSexton (“Americans have taken the inch given to them with the second amendment and ran for miles with it”)

  102. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Problem that Touches on Every Corner of Our Society by adeliemelon (We must advocate for gun control)

  103. My Thoughts on Newtown: How many massacres does it take? by Jonah812 (There have been too many shootings in the US)

  104. My Thoughts on Newtown: Which guns for which people by cah815 (Restrict certain guns to the public)

  105. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are not evil, people are by Brittany Louise Hurley (Not all guns should be restricted, but some should)

  106. My Thoughts on Newtown: The importance of our message by hlim25 (We need to reassess the way we view and use guns)

  107. My Thoughts on Newtown: A taste of what’s to come? by Raspberryrae410 (We need stronger gun control now)

  108. My Thoughts on Newtown: The road to recovery by codster7 (When we can buy guns on Craigslist, we’ve got a problem)

  109. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are good; people are crazy by sbest11 (Limitations on gun ownership will help)

  110. My Thoughts on Newtown: How to prevent another disaster by howling wolf (Stricter gun laws will prevent future violence)

  111. My Thoughts on Newtown: We shouldn’t kill by Shutarra (Only cops should carry guns)

  112. My Thought on Newtown: People are evil, guns are not by Sarakilloug12 (There’s not much we can do besides enact laws to try to prevent violence)

  113. My Thoughts on Newtown: Another tragedy that will never be forgotten by deezy (“Get right with God, because you don’t know when your time is coming”)

  114. My Thoughts on Newtown: Limitations on Firearms for the Tragedy in Newtown by colbyS (Guns are problematic machines)

  115. My Thoughts on Newtown: The rifle—my companion and another’s weapon by Winwinhh (This teen organized a response to the Newtown shooting in her all-girls school)

  116. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun control by Nadia (Congress must act now)

  117. My Thoughts on Newtown: Not the guns, the people by MadisonL (People must better understand guns)

  118. My Thoughts on Newtown: Scapegoat for stupidity by Dmpancakepalace (It is stupid to blame guns)

  119. My Thoughts on Newtown: How we must move forward by ghong10 (More guns means more homicides)

  120. My Thoughts on Newtown: We can’t be trusted anymore by ndhingra (Guns must be taken off the streets for good)

  121. My Thoughts on Newtown: Why schools are better off without guns by KelseyAN (The world isn’t divided into “good guys” and “bad guys”)

  122. My Thoughts on Newtown: And the key to preventing it by DavidLee11 (Stricter gun laws and more security in schools)

  123. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun Control by courtney_chandler (Teachers should have guns in their desks)

  124. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people by glee (Guns may make you feel safe, but they can also do a lot of harm)

  125. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Tragedy by Cassidy Balkcom (Military style weapons should be restricted)


Essays about Mental Health

  1. My Thoughts on Newtown: “We must become the change we want to see” by rachel.sing.7 (Get help for those people with mental illnesses)

  2. My Thoughts on Newtown: A tragedy to think about by iluvtowrite (We need to better monitor mental health)

  3. My Thoughts on Newtown: Silent Killer by kkim (Obama must act on social welfare)

  4. My Thoughts on Newtown: Why someone could shoot innocent people by ritamarino2090 (Lanza was a victim of his disorder—a lonely man)

  5. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Deadliest Silence by aarong (The tragedy could have been prevented if only people were kinder to Lanza)

  6. My Thoughts on Newtown: We are the problem and the solution by lovethewild (Society has become too self-centered)

  7. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people by ChelsPaigeR97 (An unstable man killed those people, not the gun itself)

  8. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are Not the Problem by Mind_of_BP (Focus on the people, not the guns)

  9. My Thoughts on Newtown: The shooter by rhiFTW (This teen “feels bad” for the shooter)

  10. My Thoughts on Newtown by xcswim2012 (Loosening society’s gender roles will help men not feel the need to commit violence)

  11. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are too dangerous to be allowed to every man by Abby Palmer (We need to work to prevent mental illness)

  12. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are not evil, people are by michaelyear1 (We should focus on the people, not the guns)

  13. My Thoughts on Newtown: Why mental institutions are needed by jaisjojy22 (We need more mental institutions to better diagnose people)

  14. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill by thomasb (People need to be regulated, not guns)

  15. My Thoughts on Newtown: Restriction is the First Prevention by Julie (Many mental illnesses are treatable)

  16. My Thoughts on Newtown: It’s a Human Problem by saraht314 (One in five Americans has a mental health issue)

  17. My Thoughts on Newtown: Cause for a Change? by Alexis Robertson (Help stabilize mental health)

  18. My Thoughts on Newtown: Weapons are not the source of killings, people are by [email protected] (More people should be screened for mental illness)

  19. My Thoughts on Newtown: People kill people by jeremy.parker (The government needs to better help those with mental illness)

  20. My Thoughts on Newtown: Banning Guns is not the Solution by alexhance (Mentally ill people need to be better treated)

  21. My Thoughts on Newtown: Mending of the Broken by marisarando (People shouldn’t rely so heavily on medications)

  22. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Underlying Issues by kespinosa216 (We need to be better educated on mental health)

  23. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Change Through Tragedy by lindseythibault (People with mental illnesses need to better treated, not just medicated)

  24. My Thoughts on Newtown: What’s behind it all? by s_barnett (We have deplorable mental health resources in this country)

  25. My Thoughts on Newtown: Let’s Not Ignore the Real Problem by ecs19 (Value individual people)

  26. My Thoughts on Newtown: Mental Health Awareness by mek15 (We need to pay more attention to kids exhibiting mental illness symptoms)

  27. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Cry for Help by mbaronio (The shooters of past tragedies were reaching out for help in the wrong way)

  28. My Thoughts on Newtown: Action is Required by jcd14 (Mental illness is just like physical illness… but mental illness has a stigma)

  29. My Thoughts on Newtown: Mental illness is serious business by Francisco orozco (Mentally ill people should not have guns)

  30. My Thoughts on Newtown: Scientific Progress over Gun Control by kliao (Mental health affects our behavior)

  31. My Thoughts on Newtown: The person behind the trigger by bridgette1 (This teen has a mental disorders, and resents the stigma that comes with it)

  32. My Thoughts on Newtown: Too much focus on guns and not mental health care by stageoflife1 (Mental illnesses need to be researched more so we can effectively treat people with mental illnesses)

  33. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns are innocuous; it’s the people that make them lethal by joehur (Lanza was just as much a victim of the poor mental health system in this country)

  34. My Thoughts on Newtown: What about the parents? by GatorReil19 (Can you imagine the pain the parents must feel?)


Essays about School Security

  1. My Thoughts on Newtown: How do we pick up the pieces? by kallafarmer (Schools need increased security like bullet-proof glass and police officers)

  2. My Thoughts on Newtown: A simple solution by Dylan_Burnell (School should provide resource officers)

  3. My Thoughts on Newtown: Are we safe at school? by Swagger465 (We need to stop bullying in schools)

  4. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Message for Gun Control and Prevention of Tragedy by C95 (Concealed officers and smart chips in guns would help prevent future tragedies)

  5. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Unheard Cries of Children by Anna Meyer (Schools should pay more attention to “bad” kids and kids who talk about guns, and be less concerned about PDA)

  6. My Thoughts on Newtown: Searching for “We” by MariaRose (The divided debate must come together to find a solution)

  7. My Thoughts on Newtown: Don’t fight fire with fire by EmiliaCristy (Violence doesn’t beget violence)

  8. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after Newtown? by Katiewolfey1212 (Teachers should carry concealed weapons)

  9. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people, mentally unstable people do by JillBartlett (This teen will stand up for the second amendment)

  10. My Thoughts on Newtown by India Fowler (Schools need cops and more security measures)

  11. My Thoughts on Newtown: It’s not the gun, it’s the shooter by Derrica Buchanan (Only guards and police should carry guns, not teachers)

  12. My Thoughts on Newtown: Controlling Your Anger by nisha (Students should always feel safe at school)

  13. My Thoughts on Newtown: Will American students ever be safe in school? by Danielle Nunn (Every school should have at least two armed security guards)

  14. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun Control by Katedouglasss (All schools should have locked doors and guns in each office)

  15. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Tragedy We’ll All Remember by Ryan_Amonta (Schools should have monthly “scheduled intruder alerts” to prepare kids for the worst)

  16. My Thoughts on Newtown: Regulations to Think About by Rachel.Ebbrecht (School security needs to be much tighter)

  17. My Thoughts on Newtown: Stop the Insanity by tmm17 (It is crucial for schools to increase security)

  18. My Thoughts on Newtown: There’s no way out by Romeskies21 (Will guns in schools really help keep kids safe?)

  19. My Thoughts on Newtown: Will this stop? by d.gabbie8 (Metal detectors and school officers may help)

  20. My Thoughts on Newtown: School Safety & Security by JoeyThePoet (Teachers should not be able to carry guns)

  21. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun Control by Brandy Cauthen (Armed officers should stand at every entrance to every school)

  22. My Thoughts on Newtown: School Safety Concerns by Kramirez528 (This teen does not feel safe at college)

  23. My Thoughts on Newtown: Do you feel safe at school or work? by Linda Estrada (Her neighborhood got much safer in the course of a year)

  24. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Gun does not Control the Shooter by sarah.wood (Students should have an anonymous way to report suspicious activity)

  25. My Thoughts on Newtown: School Safety by sergio (We need to perpetually improve school safety)

  26. My Thoughts on Newtown: Safety at school by brijidoocampo (This teen experienced a shoot out close to her school)

  27. My Thoughts on Newtown: Look Behind the Trigger by abbysherrie (She highly doubts gun control will work)

  28. My Thoughts on Newtown: Preventing school shootings by jennawrj11895 (All buildings should be locked and one teacher should volunteer to carry a concealed weapon)

  29. My Thoughts on Newtown: A tragedy that inspires a need for a dialogue by Ironside56 (Teachers should carry concealed weapons and schools should have security cameras)

  30. My Thoughts on Newtown: Safety is the Priority by Alma_31 (Safety needs to come before education)

  31. My Thoughts on Newtown: Making the schools safer by tchantay (Schools should have metal detectors and teachers should carry guns)

  32. My Thoughts on Newtown: No it is not because of a gun; it is the psychotic person by Shann (Schools should have stronger security)

  33. My Thoughts on Newtown: We should open our eyes and increase security by deshamae (This teen does not feel safe at school)

  34. My Thoughts on Newtown: People are the Problem by taylorhammen (Increase security in schools and public places)

  35. My Thoughts on Newtown: Stopping the tragedies by C.Acevedo32 (Metal detectors and more police officers on campuses are a start)

  36. My Thoughts on Newtown: School safety by morgan4 (Schools should enact more security during school hours)

  37. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill, people do by JRoll58 (Students should be searched upon entering school)


Essays about Gun Rights/Protection

  1. My Thoughts on Newtown: It Starts With Us by Megiris (Gun control does not reduce gun violence)

  2. My Thoughts on Newton: Staff should be able to carry concealed weapons by lyssasaurausrexcx (Teachers carrying concealed weapons will lead to a safer school)

  3. My Thoughts on Newtown: Nothing Has Changed by miagrace (Any person, except those with a criminal record, should be able to get a gun)

  4. My Thoughts on Newtown: Horrified but not Shocked by flummerie (Schools and communities should be familiar with gun safety)

  5. My Thoughts on Newtown: We can’t blame the gun; we have to blame the people by CaseyBerg5 (Gun owners should be subject to random psychological tests)

  6. My Thoughts on Newtown: Tragedy for America, shouldn’t be for guns by stevenmg18 (We need to uphold the second amendment)

  7. My Thoughts on Newtown: Why blame the gun? by jesalynm13 (Guns are a right and shouldn’t be taken away)

  8. My Thoughts on Newtown: We do not fear the gun, we fear the hand it is placed in by bazzoun (Loose guns laws are not the reason for America’s immorality)

  9. My Thoughts on Newtown: If Only They Were Armed by AnnaDee (If the teachers had had guns they could have stopped the shooter)

  10. My Thoughts on Newtown: Changes After a Tragedy by colekailbat (If the principal was armed, she could have stopped the shooter early on)

  11. My Thoughts on Newtown: Who is to blame? by themikemm (Lanza’s mother should have locked and hidden her guns)

  12. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun Control? by dsaint1212 (American citizens would be hurt if the second amendment ended)

  13. My Thoughts on Newtown: When Seconds Count, the Police are Only Moments Away by n0stalgic (A person wouldn’t attack an armed school)

  14. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun or No Gun by EmilyWatson10250 (Use your gun for protection, not harm)

  15. My Thoughts on Newtown: You honestly think criminals will obey gun control laws… by mynameislynn (In times like this, we need to protect our second amendment rights)

  16. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people by K.A.Duncan (Anyone and everyone can be a victim of gun violence)

  17. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after the Newtown school shooting? by Taeyoung (Taking away guns is a direct violation of Americans’ rights)

  18. My Thoughts on Newtown: School Shooting by Taeyoung (Taking away guns would give the government too much power)

  19. My Thoughts on Newtown: The shooting was a tragedy, but it’s not the guns it’s the people by theboywiththegirlname (Guns should not be banned)

  20. My Thoughts on Newtown: Tragedy will always exist by lvest (States should enact conceal and carry laws)

  21. My Thoughts on Newtown: We need to look at why, not how by LaLa1998 (Bad guys can be stopped with good guys with guns)

  22. My Thoughts on Newtown: The American right to keep and bear arms by minm (It is our right to defend ourselves)

  23. My Thoughts on Newtown: Our Rights by JennaRae (We should keep the right to bear arms)

  24. My Thoughts on Newtown: Reason is Protection by catlynm16 (There should be a limited number of guns per household)


Essays calling for No Policy Change

  1. My Thoughts on Newtown: Being Thankful by eeyoregirl30 (We should be thankful to be alive and move on)

  2. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Truth by kristin mayes (We can’t prevent bad things from happening)

  3. My Thoughts on Newtown by lisa89 (We have become a nation of complacency)

  4. My Thoughts on Newtown: Nowhere But Up (A True Moment of Silence) by dark.angel (Newtown has suffered a terrible tragedy, but guns should not be restricted)

  5. My Thoughts on Newtown: Teach love, not hate by NCpollyCA (Teach people the value of a life)

  6. My Thoughts on Newtown: It Only Takes One by Knitwit (This teen’s community is looking to find the good again)

  7. My Thoughts on Newtown: Moving Forward by jay_bauer42 (To become a better nation, we must bond together and move on)

  8. My Thoughts on Newtown: Love Will Always Conquer by cissis (Don’t fight violence with violence)

  9. My Thoughts on Newtown: Stop pointing fingers by bbigday (This teen knows there is no one solution; she just wants her sense of safety back)

  10. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go from the Sandy Hook shootings? by Hmckay (Trust in God)

  11. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Root of the Problem by liveinthemoment (Neither gun control nor gun rights will fix this issue)

  12. My Thoughts on Newtown: Rather than dealing out blame, we should designate action by aniii26x (“The tragedy should not be marred by arguments and rationalizations”)

  13. My Thoughts on Newtown: Nothing is Ever Going to Change by Aforgottenmemory (We talk about gun control, but nothing will ever pass)

  14. My Thoughts on Newtown: Never forgetting lecture for entire human race by milana (We need to change ourselves to see change in the world)

  15. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people by BriDaSilva (Change begins with us)

  16. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns in Evil Hands by rika2795 (Pray for the families hurt by this tragedy)

  17. My Thoughts on Newtown: We need a new approach by hysshin (We need to keep going)


Essays about Media Influence (TV, Video Games, Movies, etc.)

  1. My Thoughts on Newtown: Let’s Play the Game, Not Blame by Papples (Video games allow teens to release their aggressions in a fictional world)

  2. My Thoughts on Newtown: It’s More Than Just the Weapon by kaseyrum (What if killers can’t distinguish between reality and violent video games?)

  3. My Thoughts on Newtown: False Accusations by cmarino (We need to return to conservative and Christian values)

  4. My Thoughts on Newtown: Perpetuating Tragedy by InfinitePerspective (Syria faces massive violence daily)

  5. My Thoughts on Newtown: Shooting from the Hip About Gun Violence by michaelhourahan94 (This teen reevaluated his position on violence in society)

  6. My Thoughts on Newtown: Does everyone deserve to own a gun? by DomilyAmonte (Violent video games and television desensitize us to violence)

  7. My Thoughts on Newtown by Swill (“It’s easier to get a gun than a kitten”)

  8. My Thoughts on Newtown: Heroes were made on December 14th, 2012 by alexcastre19 (Criminals see they can get publicity, as we often remember murders, not heroes)

  9. My Thoughts on Newtown: Reporting Gun Violence the Right Way by ErinnClaire (Stop sensationalizing violence)

  10. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after Newtown? by kyle.schweitzer (The media shouldn’t give killers their 15 minutes of fame)

  11. My Thoughts on Newtown: Change the society by joanne321 (Society needs to change)

  12. My Thoughts on Newtown: The Loss of Innocence by jduffyo (We need to learn to value human life)

  13. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after the Newtown school shooting? by jad18 (The media sensationalizes violence)

  14. My Thoughts on Newtown: Steps to Solution by dbeal (The media leads to copycat shootings)

  15. My Thoughts on Newtown: Knowledge and (Hopefully) an Eventual Compromise by [email protected] (This teen has only learned information on guns from the media)

  16. My Thoughts on Newtown: Where do we go after Newtown? by jnc16 (TV is far too violent)

  17. My Thoughts on Newtown: Human Error by ejo12 (We are hopelessly attracted to violence)

  18. My Thoughts on Newtown: Desensitization by SEKOO (Violent video games desensitize us to death)

  19. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun Control and the Conflicts by jadestovall (Teens should stop listening to violent music and playing violent games)

  20. My Thoughts on Newtown: A Different Look at Violence in the Media by h.duncan28 (We are so used to violence that our reaction to it is conditioned)

  21. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun control by Eric21 (Eminem and offensive lyrics may be to blame)

  22. My Thoughts on Newtown: Gun control is only a start… by SuperNova (The government should regulate the violent content on TV)

  23. My Thoughts on Newtown: Violence with music lyrics and games by Maria_17 (Music and games teaches kids to be aggressive and disrespectful)

  24. My Thoughts on Newtown: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people by john12 (Violent video games make you feel a part of the violence)



Consider - Editorial Viewpoint  

by Michelle, Stage of Life Editor

To help teens and students better understand the complexity around Mental Health, consider this...

A lot of teens wrote about mentally ill people as being “crazy”, “insane”, or “psychotic.” They shouldn’t mingle with “normal people.” They should be locked up at home or institutionalized.  Most people don't realize that one in four Americans has a mental illness.  Approx. 260 people submitted to the StageofLife.com writing contest; which means, statistically, 65 submitters have a diagnosable mental illness.

Is our language problematic?

Calling a mentally ill person those words listed above is degrading and dehumanizing. It intends to separate those without mental illnesses from those with mental illnesses. When really, people with mental illnesses aren’t that different from people without mental illnesses.

This type of bullying is called "ableism."  Ableism is the discrimination or oppression of people who do not appear able-bodied. This includes people with physical disabilities and people with mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses are like physical illnesses, except you can’t see them. It's why they’re called Invisible Illnesses; it’s also why they’ve attracted such a sad stigma in this country. When a person has bipolar disorder, they should be treated the same way a person with cancer might be: humanely, with patience and care.

Here are some facts about mental illness and mental health in America. Sources are NAMI and the NIMH.

  • One in four people have a mental illness in America.
  • Mentally ill people are more likely to be the victims of violence than to commit violence.
  • On the same token, mentally ill people are no more violent than people without mental illnesses.
  • Most mentally ill people lead normal lives and hold down normal jobs; chances are you know someone with a mental illness and don’t even know it.
  • Mental healthcare is expensive and time-consuming. Many medications and treatments do not begin working for 6-8 weeks, and many psychiatrists can only dedicate 10 minutes to each patient because of the high demand of patients in need
  • Instead of improving mental healthcare, many states are opting to cut mental healthcare.

Clearly, we still have a long way to go in America. It’s also clear that Adam Lanza and other mentally ill shooters are exceptions to the rule, rather than the rule. On average, about 30 gun deaths occur per day in America (based on data from the CDC.)  Are they all committed by mentally ill people?  Statistics say no, probably not.

Here are some ways that you can help make your classroom, and your community, a safer place for those with mental illnesses:

1.  Stop using words like “crazy”, “nuts”, “psychotic”, “insane”, or “retarded.”  Also avoid casually labeling yourself as bipolar or depressed. If you think you may legitimately have a mental illness, speak to a school counselor about what steps to take next.

2.  Use person-first language when speaking about a person with a mental illness. Instead of saying “that schizophrenic” say “that person with schizophrenia.”

3.  Check out organizations like NAMI in your area. They offer education and counseling resources for those looking to learn about mental health.


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Below you will find all of the monthly writing contests and teen trend reports from the last five years hosted by StageofLife.com.  Our dedication to digital literacy efforts have reached over 1,000,000 students and teachers in the last half decade, received mention on TIME.com, and features in the news.  Feel free to click through and read the top essay submissions from any given month.  StageofLife.com is honored to be one of the most-visited writing contests for students in the world.  We love working with you as we celebrate the journey as life-long readers and writers...

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