School shootings are an ugly reality in our history. Many countries around the world have dealt with this act of violence to our youth and it is still happening to this day. While the number of incidents and those who lost their life fluctuate, every statistic represents a person injured or killed.
How do we end this violence and tragedy? Is it up to parents to fix the problem or our public educators? There has to be a concentrated effort on all of society to make drastic changes and protect our youth when they go to school every day.
We need to make changes in schools to protect our youth as well as teaching and support staff. Adopting new policies to address gun violence can help out on the front lines of our classrooms and with the support and input of parents, these programs can end gun violence in our schools and return them to a place of learning, discovery, and friendship.
Here are some proactive ways to prevent gun violence in schools:
1. Amend Gun Laws
In order to lessen gun violence, we must deal with guns and their owners. While there doesn’t need to be restrictions on purchasing any legal firearms, we must have better rules for owning them. Mandatory firearms training is a good place to start. A country-wide firearms safety and training course should be required before gun ownership that includes handling, cleaning, and secure storing of all guns.
Certified training will provide a national standard of safe gun use and storage so they don’t get into the hands of untrained youth.
2. Enhance School Security
Enhancing school security is another way to prevent gun violence in schools. Most schools have protocols in place for emergency situations but they could certainly be upgraded to include potential gun violence threats.
There are advanced concealed weapons detection technologies that could be implemented inside school grounds and buildings to prevent guns from being brought in. Using a weapon detection sensor at entrances would stop firearms from being brought to school and potentially used in a violent crime.
3. Arm Schools
While we don’t want to have anybody walking around with a gun, there needs to be protection in our schools. There are many veterans and retired law enforcement people that are available to work inside the schools as armed guards. This could start in high-risk areas and schools that have seen an uptake in violence.
Having an armed presence is a huge deterrence and that should be the ultimate goal. This would give students and staff the security they need in the schools and allow our brave ex-military and law enforcement individuals to extend their heroic training to good use.
4. Foster a Positive School Environment
There needs to be a supportive school environment where students feel safe. Partnering with parents is a great way to keep everyone connected and on the same page. Policies that bring together students, staff, and parents foster trust and respect inside these educational centres and assure parents their children are protected.
5. Upgrade Counselling Services
Having a well-trained counselling team in every school is key to lowering the risk of violence. They are there to watch and interact with students, especially those that struggle to find their place among the student body. Counselors can work with parents to address negative behaviour during school hours and make sure home life is stable.
It’s not their job to make parenting decisions but they can offer support and advice that could help students have a positive educational experience. A comprehensive no-bullying program and curriculum will give students a secure environment and a safe place to report any negative interactions they might be part of.
6. Incorporate Mental Health Services
Sometimes families are busy and don’t see potential emotional and behavioural problems in their children. This is easier to recognize in a school setting where children and their peers interact. Having mental health services extend into the schools can assist in identifying children at risk and get help in real-time when they need it as well as help parents in improving the lives of their children both at school and at home.
Putting the blame on weapons like guns doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Recognizing and addressing mental health issues before they escalate into violent acts is paramount. It is becoming all too easy to prescribe medication for depression and other disorders. It is far better to seek help from mental health professionals who can work with youth to understand their challenges and prescribe solutions as well as the right medication if needed.
7. Foster Better Social Skills
In the internet age, most kids interact on social media rather than face to face. This is where bullying takes place. Looking for self-worth in likes and follows is troubling. It’s the parent’s job to limit this type of online activity and promote person-to-person activities. Team sports are great for this, both in school and outside of it.
Children need to develop coping and communication skills without typing on a screen. If we can get students connected with each other outside of their virtual lives they can develop skills that will better prepare them when adversity hits.