School Safety

When faced with a tragedy like Parkland, we are shaken to the core. The public understandably seeks quick, visible measures such as the ones mentioned above. Unfortunately, the data does not point to the efficacy of these solutions. Instead, we should take a measured approach rooted in research to implement solutions that actually create safer schools, rather than feel-good measures that leave the community with a false sense of security. Soon after Parkland, experts gathered to outline recommendations for increasing school safety. Recommended responses included the following:

1) make it harder to acquire guns by implementing universal background checks, banning assault-style weapons, and adopting sensible gun-control measures.

2) invest in efforts to provide social and emotional services for students.

3) focus on a relationship-based model where students are encouraged to report concerns to an adult. (A staggering one-in-four middle and high school kids report seeing a weapon at least once a year, and in a majority of cases a shooter will communicate their intentions in some form to a peer.

4) address the racial biases in disciplinary action so as to reduce suspensions through staff and student training.

5) have a clear plan in place for assessing a situation when a student is identified as having a weapon or making threatening remarks. “Triage” teams should include key administrators, a trained psychologist, and an adequately trained school resource officer (SRO), where appropriate.