May 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

"It might happen again": Uvalde's kid survivors tell their stories

Picture of children visiting a memorial for the victims of the Uvalde shooting
Mourners visit a memorial for the vitcims of Tuesday's mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on May 26, 2022. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

In the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas shooting that killed 19 children and two adults, elementary school-aged survivors are appearing on local and national television to tell their stories.

Why it matters: Although these children are younger, their media presence in the wake of this week's devastating tragedy is reminiscent of the Parkland shooting survivors, who went on to lead the nation through weeks of grief.

  • The young Uvalde children are not making calls to action on gun control, unlike the teenage Parkland students, but they are forced to bear witness to what they saw in their classrooms.

"I have the fear of guns now because I'm scared someone might shoot me," 8-year-old Edward Timothy, a second-grade survivor, told CNN. He added that his school has been holding drills on what to do if there's a school shooting since kindergarten.

  • Another survivor, 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, who witnessed some of the victims getting shot, told the outlet that she dipped her hands in the blood of a classmate who had been killed and smeared it on herself to play dead.
  • Miah and her classmates were watching "Lilo & Stitch" when her teachers got word of the shooter.
  • "I know it might happen again, probably," 10-year-old Jayden Perez told CNN, remarking he was friends with "basically all" of those who died.

What they're saying: "It's messed up that these kids have to go on CNN, or MSNBC, or whatever it is, and talk about death," said Jaclyn Corin, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting and co-founder of March For Our Lives, a student-led organization that advocates for gun control laws.

  • Corin said that sharing her experience as a survivor "led to a lot of people feeling like it was okay to ask me intrusive questions down the line."
  • "I do think children telling their stories is incredibly impactful," she added, but "I hope that they're not taken advantage of moving forward because they are so young."
  • "It should not be our responsibility to speak out," Corin told Axios, adding how, after she survived the Parkland shooting at 17 years old, some elected officials and other adults would ask her what they should be doing. "It's quite ridiculous, but that's the expectation."

The big picture: Cable news outlets were created by adults for adults, which makes it jarring to see young children making regular appearances as the days following the shooting unfold.

Between the lines: Some parents and guardians are struggling to speak with their children about the Texas shooting. Uvalde survivors’ appearances across major television networks show how hard it may be for them to avoid the conversation.

  • "All of it can be a trigger. It's important to focus on your own kids' sensitivities when sharing details, including any visuals of the actual kids," said Jill Murphy, editor in chief of children's media advocacy group, Common Sense Media. "We hope the intention of sharing these images isn't sensational, but to impact viewers to take action."

Go deeper: Remembering the victims of the Texas school shooting

Go deeper