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In an unsettling sign of the times, the Rock Hill School District in South Carolina will now have a dedicated armed security officer in each of the district’s 17 elementary schools and the Central Child Development Center.

The decision comes after parents, students and administration had a series of meetings to discuss safety and security during the prior school year.

“It became clear through the meetings that having an armed security officer on campus at our elementary schools was a priority,” according to a press release from the district.

 

Per The Herald, “The security officers will act as first responders in emergencies and coordinate with law enforcement, according to the Rock Hill School District. The officers are responsible for preventing trespassers and unauthorized visitors from entering campus.

Security officers will also assist with traffic control and parking during and after school hours.”

While the decision may raise eyebrows, it’s certainly not unprecedented.

 

In February of this year, a Florida charter school near Tampa hired two combat veterans armed with long guns to keep its middle and high school students safe. The “guardians” will carry a 9-millimeter Glock handgun and a semiautomatic rifle with a 17-inch barrel on their patrols, according to Fox News.

The school’s principal, Dr. Bill Jones, said: “Manatee School For the Arts has made a conscious decision to hire military combat veterans to serve as Guardians.  We are looking for individuals for whom an incident on campus would not be the first time they will have been shot at would have faced life-threatening situations.”

More than half of all US states have policies allowing schools or districts to give permission to “individuals” to carry guns, with state-by-state policies differing on whether that is concealed or open carry, teachers, “resource officers” or security personnel.

 

But is this a good idea, and will it do anything to stop school shootings?

 

A USA Today editorial posted one year after the Parkland tragedy and written by Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University, James Alan Fox, says no.

Although the sense of safety of schools has been shaken, it is important not to view such occurrences as the “new normal,” as some have suggested. Since the mass killing at Santa Fe High (in October 2018), there have been but four fatal gun assaults of students in our nation’s K-12 schools, each claiming the life of a single victim. Also, in the five years before the Parkland shooting, 13 students were gunned down at schools, a tiny fraction of the thousands of school-age children shot to death over that time frame while they were away from school.

According to FBI data, there were 20 active shooter events at K-12 schools from 2010 through 2017, nearly half without fatalities, for an average of fewer than three incidents per year. That is in contrast to the roughly 100,000 schools in the United States. Given the exceptionally low likelihood of an active shooter attack, the overwhelming majority of the guardian’s time will be idle, much like the lonely repairman in the classic Maytag commercial.

… Many school shootings have occurred during nonschool hours, when guardians might not be working. Unfortunately, there is always opportunity for a determined gunman to do damage in nonsecure places. Are we going to put a guard on every yellow school bus or arm the refs at JV football games?

Rather than spending scarce resources to deter the unlikely gunman, it is better to invest in prevention, such as hiring more teachers, guidance counselors and school psychologists. However effective in identifying and intervening with a student seemingly on the path to destruction, this will at the same time enhance the educational and social development of countless students, most of whom would never be inclined to shoot a classmate or teacher.

 

We have to admit he has a point. What do you think?

 

 

 

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One Response

  1. Henry

    How about we look at this as a first step in reducing school shootings, then we can focus on the real issue of mental health and try to get help to those that need it. Also we need to intervene earlier to those that show hostile intent to others!!

    Reply

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