Absent armed teachers–something that far too many school districts are unwilling to do–the single most important thing we can do to prevent mass shootings in schools is to harden those schools. It’s important that they become impregnable fortresses against those who would harm our children.
Of course, this is controversial too. Some say it’s not right that our schools will end up looking or feeling like prisons.
Well, the Justice Department isn’t listening to those folks.
The Department of Justice on Monday announced it has awarded over $85 million in grants to schools across the country for the purpose of addressing gun violence.
The funds, awarded to 215 jurisdictions under the banner of the 2018 STOP School Violence Act, were designated for targeted programs that help develop threat assessment teams, school safety infrastructure, coordination with law enforcement and mental health training, among other initiatives.
Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit which helps schools devise security protocols, thought the areas of focus emphasized by the Justice Department were wholly appropriate for improving campus safety.
“Those topical areas as described are excellent, especially the mention of student threat assessment and management,” Dorn told Newsweek. “Those areas are typically some of our most reliable measures to prevent planned attacks by internal actors. The one that’s not on here that we feel is one of the most important is supervision. Improving student supervision is one of the most effective ways to reduce a whole array of safety events, including homicide.”
None of this is perfect, though. There’s only so much you can do on this front. Threat assessments are notoriously inconsistent due to the human element involved in them. Mental health training is good and all, but a kid with depression isn’t necessarily the one who is going to shoot up the school. We sometimes don’t see the problems until afterward.
Don’t take this as me saying these areas don’t need to be addressed. They most certainly should. However, it’s important to note that none of these things are a magic bullet, which is why I’m glad it’s not just one thing being pushed here.
If there is a magic bullet, it’s probably in what is termed “school safety infrastructure” which includes things like hardening the schools so unapproved people can’t access the building and cause problems. Even that has flaws, of course, but it’s a key step.
While some will term this as turning schools into prisons, I think the fortress is a more apt metaphor. Our children matter to us. We should be doing everything we can to keep them safe. That includes hardening schools, funding mental health within the schools, threat assessment programs and so one.
Yet this doesn’t go quite far enough. We need armed teachers, volunteers who can meet the threat of attack with lethal force, thus putting down these rabid dogs just as they deserve.
Even that won’t end the threats to our children, but it will damn sure minimize them.
It’s funny because anti-gunners don’t seem to blink at protecting politicians with guns. They don’t think twice about protecting money or jewels with guns. Why is it such a problem to protect our children with guns?