A couple of thoughts about school safety since I spent a few years in schools…
I’ve watched students and teachers take many actions to improve school safety. I’ve seen teachers in tears during and following emergency drills or training while trying to determine how to best prepare for possible intruder scenarios. I’ve watched the Alma School District make safety a priority with the addition of SROs, surveillance cameras, a secure front entrance that unlocks after approval, and more. Most importantly, school safety remained at the forefront of thinking even when it wasn’t in the news.
Some politicians are now suddenly passionate about hardening our schools. Some might be sincere but I suspect it’s a diversion. IF they were serious, they’d investigate the actual costs of even a few of the things they’re suggesting. 1 Hiring multiple armed guards for the entrance of every school in our nation? 2 Passing every human through metal detectors before being approved to enter? 3 Razor wire fences around all schools in the nation? 4 Bulletproof glass on all exterior windows? There are other proposals flying around that’s mostly smoke and mirrors.
Politicians throw out these ideas and ask indignantly why all their suggestions aren’t being adopted, but it’s a delay tactic in hopes that “this too shall pass.” They want us to lose interest and history says that, given time, we will.
What are some of us interested in? How about making it just a little bit inconvenient for kids to purchase certain weapons and large volumes of ammo until they reach an appropriate age and pass some competency barriers sorta like I did to get the privilege of driving.
Since this is a complex problem, maybe we should approach it from a variety of angles. Yes, improve safety procedures and facilities, but reasonable requirements for gun ownership and use should be something we’re willing to do.
“But criminals don’t follow the rules.” That’s true, but it doesn’t stop us from requiring a driver’s license, registration, and liability insurance. And, the existence of rules makes it more obvious when someone is acting outside of the behaviors expected by society.
I am a retired teacher and administrator and I have followed your column for a while now. I understand and agree with several things you are saying. But as I look at how things have evolved over the years I have to ask myself WHAT has changed? Yes, we must be more careful about how easy it is to get guns, ammo, and other things used. But, is that going to solve the problem? I really think WHAT has changed is society in general. I think the real emphasis needs to be on what has happened to cause people to do things like mass shootings. I think it all boils down to mental illness. And more important what has caused the problems people are having. A breakdown of the traditional family? Too many single parent homes (both mom & dad), the removal of God from the schools, too many fiamiles that never go to church, too many people becoming parents who are not ready to be parents, too much control of schools by the government instead of by the local people?? I could go on and on. A lot of people want to be able to pass legislation that is going to fix things. None of those problems can be fixed by passing a few pieces of legislation. None of these problems came about overnight and will not be fixed overnight. We have to look for long term solutions. Now, probably there is a need for some immediate action to help as we correct what has happened over a period of time. But we have to look at what has happened to us, what can be done to fix it, and prepare everyone to be patient and deligent. Be willing to work for a long term goal and don’t give up.
Thanks for reading and the comment. I think we agree in a lot of areas. I fear that in the area of school safety we have “problem paralysis” in that we want a complex problem to have a simple solution but we must address multiple areas.
Social-emotional-mental health is a huge factor as well as family dynamics and should be a focus, but while we’re trying to predict those who’ll harm themselves and others, we should also make it inconvenient to access weapons that are beyond what law enforcement typically use.