Written by Merima Aranitović //

Every time I greet them in the classroom in the same way.

„Good day, how are you today?“ I say.

And every time the answer is more or less the same. Today it’s not.

Today the answers were different. As well as the behavior of my students. As if they grew up too much in one day and night.

What troubles them?

They are afraid. They are afraid for their brothers and sisters who are in elementary school. They say, there is always something happening there, but mostly it’s well hushed up. Until something happens that can’t be hidden.

They are confused because they have learned that there are differences. Elite and other schools. Until yesterday, they believed that all schools were the same.

They are sad because adults often don’t believe that they are scared, anxious, depressed, and down. They are told that these things don’t happen to children and that it’s just a sign that they are lazy and spoiled. But they are not. And they are seeking help.

They can’t believe that their parents are ashamed to take them to a psychologist or therapist for a talk.

© Katerina Holmes

What were they expecting?

They were expecting all of us to gather, the whole shift, and for someone to address them. To see that they are not alone when they look around. To have the support of their peers, and someone in front of them who will explain what is happening.

What is the message?

Adults, listen to your children and help them.

Even if you doubt what they are telling you, even if something didn’t exist in your time, check, investigate, and take them to someone who is competent. Talk to elders, school psychologists, and pedagogues.

Let’s listen and hear what children have to tell us.

  • On 3 May 2023, a school shooting occurred at Vladislav Ribnikar Model Elementary School in the Vračar municipality of Belgrade, Serbia. The shooter, identified as a 13-year-old male student, opened fire on students and staff, resulting in the deaths of ten individuals, including nine students and a security guard. The text was written after a tragic event.

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