The Fallout: Effects of School Shootings on Students

The HBO movie shows the detrimental effects on students and their families from the trauma of a school shooting

Written and directed by Megan Park, 2021s The Fallout can be streamed on HBO

courtesy of HBO

Written and directed by Megan Park, 2021’s The Fallout can be streamed on HBO

DISCLAIMER: The Fallout is rated R (language; teen sex; drug and alcohol use). The movie should be viewed with viewer discretion and only for appropriate ages.

Imagine you are going to school on a regular morning not expecting anything and suddenly you find yourself hiding for your life in a bathroom stall because you have a school shooter in your school. As far from reality as this scenario may seem, it is something thousands of students go through each year in the United States.

This is how the movie The Fallout begins. In the movie, Vada (Jenna Ortega) and Mia (Maddie Zigglier) are two students whose journey to recovery from the aftermath of a school shooting we follow. Although the shooting is an important event in the plot, the movie focuses more on the response of each student to the shooting.

When the school shooting occurs, Vada and Mia are in the restroom and end up hiding in one of the stalls for the duration of the shooting. This is the beginning of their journey, not only to becoming good friends, but also as young students who have to live with traumatic PTSD.

During their journey to recovery, Vada and Mia start by drinking alcohol and also smoking marijuana. By doing this, they try to distract themselves and their feelings of trauma. Even though this helps them cope with their traumatic flashbacks, it soon starts to take a toll on their lives.

One of the changes can be seen through their emotions and personalities. As a result of their trauma, they both deal with it differently at home. When Mia smokes weed, she says she, “feel[s] chill” while Vada says, “I feel nothing. I hate weed.”

Initially, this doesn’t affect Vada’s family dynamic, but eventually she begins getting frustrated and angry with her family. Her mood swings greatly affect her sister the most because they were the closest, but after the shooting, they drifted apart.

In the movie, we are also introduced to one of Vada’s friends, Nick, who becomes an activist for gun control. Nick, who was also at the shooting, reacted differently to the shooting. Even though he also suffered emotionally and mentally from the shooting, he approaches his journey to recovery differently. Because of his different approach, Vada and Nick become distant and rarely speak to each other.

Although the movie may be fiction, it is a really close portrayal of what many teens around the country face after traumatic experiences, especially in a school setting. Students like Vada and Mia have similar reactions. In the movie, Vada didn’t enjoy going to school and had a hard time connecting back with her friends. Mia, on the other hand, had stopped going to school completely because she didn’t feel safe stepping out of her home.

All in all, this movie truly captures the grave effects that school shootings have on students.

For a look at what one school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is doing to help with the aftermath of a school shooting, see what they’ve put together, here.