A thought occurred to me tonight as I was driving home listening to one station describe the situation in Santa Fe, TX and another completely ignore it (which I think says something in itself…). Is the fact that these shootings often happen in public schools holding us back from any real progress? Teachers around the country are literally storming state capitols by the thousands for textbooks and desks. How can we seriously ask for more (high salary) professionals to help prevent or quickly end these situations? The government won’t buy us BOOKS, let alone multiple psychologists. We are struggling to fill rooms with teachers because this profession is so undervalued by the government, and yet we are expecting the few that are left to take on more and more student issues.
This is a societal issue, not a school issue. The problems that lead to these shootings don’t come from within the school, at least not solely. Drug use. Social media bullying. Mental health disorders. Absent parents. Clear backpacks and buckets of rocks do not solve those problems, but they sure do come cheap (relatively speaking). And if we increase security and have an armed guard inside of every school, maybe it will scare shooters away (though that wasn’t the case at Forest High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Great Mills High School, Dixon High School, and countless other schools that have encountered gunman regardless of the fact that they have trained and armed security personnel). But if we don’t address the issue in society as a whole, will it make the gunman go shoot up a grocery store or church instead? And then what? We need to look at ways to make THE PUBLIC safe- not just schools. Instead of putting out gestures to make people feel safer, why not actually take steps to make us safer?
It is time for everyone to step up. Not just teachers or students or parents. Everyone. This is bigger than “see something, say something”. This is taking steps to prevent what we “see” from being there in the first place. Maybe for you that means stricter gun regulations. Maybe it means better mental health screenings and treatment. Maybe it means being more assertive in stopping bullying. But whatever you think the solution is (and please, please, please understand that this will take many parts- not just the one you think is best), it is time to step up and start demanding it. If you want armed security at your children’s school, get your behind to your school board meeting and have it addressed. Want better mental health care or drug prevention in your town? Call your county health department and see what you can do to get them more funding. Stricter gun control in your state? Show up at the town hall meetings your legislators hold and demand answers (and if they don’t hold public sessions, put in a phone call until it happens). Because here’s the thing: this issue of public shootings is not going away. It’s also not getting better. And we cannot let school funding be the excuse. This is not a school problem and we should not be looking at schools to solve it. Every single person I know working in a school would do just about anything to actually make our students safer, but eventually students have to go outside. And then what?
Thank you for sticking with me through this train of thought post. If you would like to share you thoughts on this issue, please feel free to do so in the comments. As always, thanks for stopping by.