Guns in Schools: After the Summit

Today I had the opportunity to attend a town hall summit on the safety of our children, with an emphasis on guns in our schools.

There were panelists representing Clayton County Public Schools, Fayette County Public Schools, Georgia State University, McIntosh Trail Mental Health Counseling Center and Public Policy Development of the Southeast Region.

As the number of incidents involving violence in our schools continues to increase some groups feel one viable solution is to arm teachers. I was very pleased to hear each panelist rebuke this idea. The preservation of life in an active shooter incident is paramount and depends on a tactical law enforcement response that allows officers to locate and neutralize the perpetrator expeditiously.  A response that requires officers to differentiate armed faculty and staff from perpetrators would hamper and delay the expediency of neutralizing a perpetrator.

The cost of properly and consistently training faculty and staff in firearms proficiency and retention would take away valuable time that could be used to gain more educational training centered around pedagogy.  All in all, I believe we hire teachers to teach and not to police our schools.  Storage and retention of weapons would also be an issue. Where would the weapon be stored? Would it be locked away? If so who would have a key? What would the policy be for removing the firearm?  We should all be focused on keeping guns out of schools unless they are being maintained by a trained law enforcement officer. I think that is the best way to maintain the safety and security of our schools.

Social media plays a significant role in our children’s lives. They wake up on their phones, they travel throughout the day on their phones and they go to sleep on their phones. Instagram and Snapchat are the most used social media applications and they have a huge influence on our children. These platforms have exacerbated bullying and caused children to feel ostracised, inferior, insignificant and invaluable.  Chats at the dinner table have been replaced by tweets and posts on various platforms. Parents believe they are keeping up with their children on social media by friending are sometimes surprised to find they have multiple accounts on the same platform.  I encourage parents to have an open dialogue with their children about the dangers of social media.  Children will often have disagreements and these disagreements are escalated into threats of violence due to comments made on social media. Teaching our children how to resolve conflicts by talking rather than posting can be beneficial in deterring violence in schools.

Violence is all around us. It the responsibility of each and every one of us to help deter it.  Parents, please become involved in your child’s school before the teacher calls about an issue. Be proactive! Join your local PTSA and give your time, talents or dollars to help make our students the best they can be.  It truly takes a village!

Thank you Fayette County NAACP for sponsoring this town hall!

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