School Tragedy

Kids Count

Herein lays a great difficulty because there are millions of school-age young men and women who are loners, who are quiet and have a mental health diagnosis that would never commit an act of violence let alone such a murderous act as the one in Newtown. I believe that it would be next to impossible to profile students with such characteristics and in addition that profiling would be inherently discriminatory and patently wrong. The great majority of these students may somehow be different, but clearly, they are not violent.

Not too long after the shooting at Columbine, I can recall some adults feeling fearful about students that wore all black clothes or long dark trench coats. It suffices to say that we cannot tell who might commit these unthinkable acts by how they appear.

Pictures of the school shooters from around the world are largely unremarkable; we won’t ever know them by how they look or how they dress. While school officials and national leaders rush to confront this terrible tragedy many different approaches are on the national consciousness. Some say that getting into school should be more difficult. Bulletproof glass entrances that can only be accessed by an identification process that includes a human being that controls who gets into the school. We have learned from a variety of experiences that machines can be duped, a human being armed with the proper training and technology can keep the wrong people out of schools or they have the best chance of doing so.

Others want to turn schools into armed fortresses with full time police or security forces in the school mix every day. Some have suggested that teachers be armed with guns, body armor and training on how to actually kill someone if the need arose. I wonder what the impact of turning schools into armed fortresses might be from a student’s perspective. In addition, I wonder if teachers, as I know them, would or could level a weapon at a student and kill him or her. This idea seems entirely counterintuitive to me, as teachers teach and nurture and should not be put in the role of enforcer.

Reach the writer at hurlburt@wildblue.net

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