School violence continues unabated despite much rhetoric from public officials and pundits when it occurs. The shooting in Parkland, FL, for example, ignited palpable, public outcry at the lack of action from elected officials, telling them any further delay in action is just not acceptable.
Until recently, those who are responsible for enacting laws to prevent gun violence and protecting our children have often been hamstrung by special interests. I am pleased to see the Florida state legislature and Governor Schaumburg High School students participated in a national school walkout last month to protest gun violence recently passed legislation to increase the age limit to purchase firearms along with other measures. This is a good start but unfortunately not enough.
The school violence situation is alarming but not beyond repair.
- Every school should undergo a risk assessment audit by professionals.
- Access to school grounds should be controlled and monitored in a more structured and robust way.
- Staff should undergo active shooter response training.
- Every school should establish a “Rapid Response” team that will be trained to respond to suspected and evolving threats.
- Schools should enhance their resilience by conducting simulations and drills facilitated by professionals, and with active participation of local law enforcement and first responders.
- Schools should undertake proactive measures to reduce crisis-causing situations such as bullying and marginalization, which are often precursors to more extreme violence.
- A “Zero Tolerance” policy for any type of violence in schools should be established and enforced.
- Except for law enforcement and security professionals, all schools should become or remain “Gun-Free Zones”.