School Safety

Ok, so I have been thinking about this (somewhat tangential) blog post for awhile and with no school this past week had some additional time to follow the press coverage and read a bit more on the subject.  Isn’t it time to start trying some really different strategies to solve the violence against school problem?

The most recent event that occurred in Parkland once again highlights that that there are opportunities to improve safety in our nation’s school system.  One of the things that becomes clear is how devastating and event like this is for those that unfortunately find themselves in the middle of it.  We all watch the coverage and become emotional ourselves even when we don’t have a direct connection to the event – having children of my own I can’t even begin to imagine how horrific it must be to go through such an event (and hope to never find out directly).  One of the outcomes that has been amazing to watch recently has been students becoming more socially active in the aftermath – amazing!  It also seems that in times like this the nation comes closer together – at least for a brief period of time.

Unfortunately, what gets lost at times is truly making improvements designed to have a long-lasting impact and so the cycle continues.  Instead politicians use these events to reiterate their (or their parties) positions rather than look to really change the course we seem to be on.  This time even companies have jumped on the bandwagon and I can’t help being a little cynical in thinking that perhaps much of their decision making is really just self-serving grandstanding.  People begin to bash and attack the NRA or any politician who supports gun ownership – as if either of them somehow encouraged the horror that occurred.

Given the easy accessibility of guns, even if we did not have the 2nd Amendment to consider the likelihood of legislating away the problem seems very small.  We have proven that already haven’t we?  Do any of us really think that an individual who makes up their mind to take someone else’s life is going to care about breaking the law to obtain a weapon?  My guess is that (hopefully) the first hurdle is a much harder one to get over.

In addition to considering raising the minimum age to purchase and other efforts to limit gun ownership (the old standby that is easy to support but likely to only show minimal results),  what other type of preventative measures could be taken to prevent or limit the impact of events such as these?  Instead of cutting ties with the NRA and their supporters, how much larger and more positive of an impact could corporations have if they supported technology (scanners, reinforced glass, etc…) or programs (counseling, education, resource officers in all schools,  etc…) designed to help with the problem?  Although the impact remains to be seen at this point, it certainly seems like a lot of the steps taken so far by corporations will result in positive PR and likely increased revenue as discounts are removed.  What would it mean if a company who is benefiting from the recent tax changes somehow reinvested those funds in improving school safety?  Would it have made any difference if there were additional individuals who volunteered – and with the proper training & certification – could have taken additional steps to stop the shooter?  It wouldn’t have prevented the event but certainly seems like it could have potentially minimized the impact.

Lastly, what role does the media play in covering events like this almost non-stop?  I know the argument from these outlets is typically that it would be covered if people weren’t interested however…….   I sometimes wonder how much the continual coverage and in some cases also sensationalizing contributes to someone watching decide that they want their fifteen minutes of fame next or create a slightly “better” plan.  I do not have an opinion on that but it is certainly a thought that has been running through my mind at times as I learn more.

Not an easy topic and certainly no easy solutions or else the problem would have already been solved.  I don’t think that there is anyone who wants these events to continue and that everyone is frustrated and doing the best they can to advocate for improvements.  It just seems like we could be a little more open to “new” solutions that may be able to help solve the problem.  After all, our students deserve that.

Thanks for reading and commenting.


2 thoughts on “School Safety

Add yours

  1. You said “Do any of us really think that an individual who makes up their mind to take someone else’s life is going to care about breaking the law to obtain a weapon?”

    This sort of argument gets used a lot in a lot of different contexts from liberals, conservatives and in apolitical situations as well.

    The truth is, people are not machines with unwavering goals they choose one day and execute on a perfect time-schedule no matter the difficulty. Even just walking into a room with a comfortable atmosphere and a yellow walls will change a person’s frame of mind. Moving the TV to a less convenient spot in someone’s house can make it easier for them to succeed on their goal to get in swimsuit-shape by July.

    The sad truth is there are a LOT more kids who _almost_ executed a school-shooting, but didn’t quite do it, than the ones that did it. Setting up our environments so that it is easier to do the right thing (like get a good job, and learn social skills at school, connect with positive group relations), and harder to do the wrong thing (guns more expensive and less dangerous) will help.


    1. Thanks for the comment JJ. I think this whole topic is very interesting and brings out strong emotions from almost everyone…… I agree that people are not machines and that a whole litany of things impacts each one of us everyday.

      It seems to me that if an individual has reached their breaking point and are taking actions designed to end someone’s (or multiple people’s) lives, there is a bigger problem than whether they bought a gun (or any other weapon) legally and the system has failed on a much larger scale at that point.

      My point in the original post was that there were clear signs of larger issues for this particular individual that were either missed or not handled appropriately. I don’t think that changes to legislation that enacts tougher gun control laws, increases age limits, creates bigger databases, etc…help that much at this point. After all, 99%+ of gun owners are incredibly responsible and never have any issues. My belief is that the problem needs additional attention in other areas such as treatment for mental health issues, management of gun free zones, expansion of individuals who would have access to weapons in the case of emergencies and stronger physical security measures at schools,

      I didn’t even get to a more fundamental disconnect when it comes to changes increasing the age limit for purchasing long guns……. Isn’t it a little bit of a conflict hat young men are deemed mature enough at 18 that they are mandated to register for selective service and could be put in harm’s way in defense of our country (with weapons by the way that are much more powerful in many cases)?

      I enjoyed your post and discussion around this topic in general. I think we owe it to our children and students to create an broader solution.


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