High School Prom Shooting Is a Devastating Reminder of the Deadly Effects of Bullying

police lights prom shooting wisconsinGoing to prom should be a wonderful and memorable occasion that serves, for many, as the highlight of the school year. But some Wisconsin students and their families will be remembering this year's dance as one that turned deadly when a bullied teen opened fire outside Antigo High School's prom, in an act that seems heartbreakingly preventable.


Jakob Wagner, 18, was shot by police after opening fire outside his prom. The teen, who'd reportedly been bullied over poor hygiene and had recently broken up with his girlfriend, wounded two students before he was stopped. He died later at the hospital while his victims were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Gun violence -- particularly deadly school shootings -- is every parent's worst nightmare. In the aftermath, most adults and students ask what could have been done differently to prevent these unspeakable acts.

What makes this tragedy that much more devastating is that it seems as if it could have been prevented. In fact, one former classmate went so far as to tell the Wausau Daily Herald:

Ever since we were younger, he was one of the kids you kind of watched out for. If someone was going to shoot the school, we thought it was going to be him.

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If that were the case, why tease and bully this kid, who other students knew had an interest in guns? Not that we're justifying what he did by any means, but if you can see that someone is already troubled or in distress, why make it worse? And where were the administrators at the school? Someone had to have known that this student was routinely mocked. Was there not a single teacher who could've taken Wagner aside and offered a bit of guidance on the hygiene front?

So many districts offer anti-bullying presentations, but simply hearing the words or watching a slideshow isn't enough. Action needs to be taken on the part of students and administrators, or these programs are merely lip service.

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Sadly, this story is a reminder to all about the importance of being an upstander rather just than a bystander. There's no time to wait in the shadows hoping someone else will step forward and help out. This is an opportunity to tell our kids, though it takes a ton of courage, if you know someone is hurting and making gun replicas in art class, do something to help. Or, at the very least, cause no additional harm.

Perhaps if someone -- a parent, a teacher, a fellow student -- had reached out to Wagner, his life would not have come to this horrific end and the students and families of Antigo wouldn't be forced to wonder if anything could've been done to prevent it.


Image via Schmidt_Alex/Shutterstock

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