How safe are our schools?

Guest Commentary

Our children are not as safe during the school as we’d like to think they are.

The safety and education of our children should be the top priority of school officials. I feel that because our schools haven’t yet had any high-profile violent incidents, they may be taking a relaxed approach to safety. The attitude that violent incidents will “never happen in our school” may be a pipe dream of those hoping it won’t. With the knowledge of what has occurred elsewhere, we know that anything can happen.

In addition to violence, school officials are faced with the problem of bullying. Now, with electronic media and social networking, bullies are able to command a larger audience. Our children used to feel safe in our homes, but this is no longer the case.

Bullying can stem from a child seeking to gain popularity through victimizing others, or it can be the result of a dysfunctional family life. Am I an expert on bullying? No, but I’ve been a bully, been a victim of bullying and have witnessed it all my life. Bullying will always be around — but we need to find a way to deal with it.

Being a former school bus driver, I’ve unfortunately witnessed how school disciplinary procedures have failed with addressing bullying, as well as other problems.

All schools need to have zero tolerance for bullying, threats and assaults, and they must take action to prevent them. Administrators need to follow through on the anti-bullying policies. This was, and may still be, a problem in the school that I worked for. It appeared that there was a different set of rules for different students. Here’s an example: I had written up a student, with previous disciplinary problems, for using profanity on the bus. This student was suspended from bus privileges for a week. Another child, with a similar disciplinary record, was written up for verbally threatening another child with a gun. It took the administration 108 days to suspend that child from my bus. Sadly, it took a phone call to a school board member to make that happen. Some people would consider that as an “idle threat” from a fifth grader, but I did not.

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