Friday, December 3, 2021

   


                                                    PREVENTING SCHOOL SHOOTINGS


Just finished listening to the press conference of by the Oakland County Prosecutor about the recent Michigan school shooting. Very alarming! Not only has this been a horrendously tragic event, but seems it did not need to happen. Four families have suffered the irrevocable loss of a child. My deepest condolences and sympathy to these devastated parents, families and friends. I am sure all of you will join me in praying for these parents, families, friends and the school community.

Speaking of the school, please bear with me as I rip into these Michigan school officials. Having been a school nurse for 38 years, 30 of which were in high school, I see absolute dereliction of duty by this high school principal. Faculty members brought to the attention of the principal the student's disturbing texts, drawings and social media postings. Based on these alone, the student's backpack and locker should have been searched immediately and/or the police called.

Two interviews with the parents could not have failed to demonstrate their lack of cooperation, comprehension and irresponsibility. Clearly, the one drawing which the student made indicated he was a danger to himself and to others. There is no way the principal should have allowed the parents to leave and let their son returned to class. He had the gun in his backpack the whole time! Again, police should have been called and an immediate report made to Child Protective Services.

Like I said, this tragedy didn't need to happen Should never have happened. A school principal has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the students in the school. Every school district has a detailed procedure manual which would include the steps to follow in the event of a security threat and also a mental health crisis. The principal could have consulted with the school resource officer, school district security head and the school superintendent. There is never a question in any school district of what to do. 

As the facts come out, the bereaved parents will have to wrestle with the knowledge that their children should not have been killed. It is so difficult to accept the death of a child, but knowing your child's death was preventable is a very bitter pill to swallow. I these believe these school administrators should face some level of criminal culpability and most certainly civil liability along with the school district.

Something else should be done nationwide. All school districts should have metal detectors in all high schools. All students, parents and visitors to the school must go through the metal detector before being allowed into the school building. I worked for a large urban school district in a large crime ridden city for 24 years. There was never a shooting inside a school building during these many years.

To some of you, metal detectors may seem draconian. I ask you, to what lengths should school districts go in order to save the lives of students? What will it take to protect mainly high school students across the country? This was a gun purchased legally, but given by clueless parents to a very disturbed son. It was not against the law for their son to have access to the gun and also to practice at a firing range. But, there are probably more illegal guns on the streets of America than legal guns. Illegal guns in the hands of teenagers. 

I ask you, though, how can a teen-ager be safer in a high school in a city with high crime rates than in suburban high school in an area with much less crime? My answer: metal detectors. You might not like this answer. Might think it is a violation of your child's rights. Might think it turns the school into a jail. Well, if you fly anywhere or go to well known amusement parks, you and your children, even young ones, will go through a metal detector.  Your child's greatest right is the right to life. 

Every high school in America must be made safe. Surveys have shown that teen-agers in the United States are fearful of being shot or killed in their own schools. This stress is damaging and most likely contributes to teen depression. We should want and we need better environments in America's high schools. School districts must take steps to put a stop to school shootings. 


     

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