School Wide Fragility

Imagine sitting in class snoozing off to your English teacher, when all of a sudden you hear fireworks go off. This followed by screaming and your teacher running toward the door putting lockdown practice into play. This should not be part of any day, yet this is a reality for students, families, and communities.  19 years ago, “school shootings” were unheard of until Columbine. School shootings are difficult to discuss without feeling a lump grow in your throat. Yes it is a heavy topic, and everyone needs to talk about school shootings.

A total of 4 major school shooting occurred in 2018 so far, resulting in 2 people killed and 13 wounded from gunfire. Since 2013, 6 adults and 23 children passed away due to a school shooting and 12 adults and 92 children injured from a school shooting. Nobody knows why the shooter chose to go to this extent. Although, we do know that the majority of school shooters were mentally unstable in school and the majority of them were the outcasts. Parents want their kid safe, and they trust that the school will keep them safe. Many believe that a school shooting will not happen at his or her school yet neither did any of the other schools. Some people want to make schools a fortress to enter, others want guns in the school, and others want to spend more funding on mental health.

Finding a solution to make all schools a fortress in a responsible fiscal and feasible manner is near impossible. In reality, there is no practical manner to do that in the short term.  First, to make that safe fortress means keeping the students out since they are the biggest problem. The chance of an outside force causing a school shooting is near to nothing compared to an inside threat. School boards want to put metal detectors in schools; however, it would take too long to move all the students through the detectors and many districts do not have monies to cover the cost. Also, how can you keep students from letting their friends inside from the back doors? You could put teachers there; yet, excessive number of entry points exceeds staffing. Finally, if a teacher found a gun in a backpack, what would they do? It is not legal for teachers to have a gun in school and most are not comfortable possessing one.  Mr. Kelly Kreps said, “If guns are the problem, why bring more guns into schools.” 

Some people want guns in school.   They say it would be a fast, easy, and possible response to a situation.  Is the budget big enough to hire additional security, train individuals, even purchase weapons? If not, the responsibility of guns in schools falls on liaisons, administrators, and educators to carry them. Five of seven teachers at Jenison do not have the proper training to even carry and four of five administrators do not have the proper training to carry. Even if the teachers got the proper training, it is still not enough training. “Most guys on the force train for 150+ hours and yet they still make mistakes. What will happen when a teacher gets thrown in the situation with only 20 hours,” said Deputy Brad Bennett.

So what is a logical, feasible, and quick response to limit/end school shootings? The truth that makes everyone so uneasy is there is no reasonable answer. Some people think making it a fortress, some think adding guns, but we need to address the mental health and put more government funding towards it. If we increased spending on mental health, more people would get the help they need: a positive step in addressing depression, anxiety, mass shootings, and suicide. If we put more funding towards mental health, the cheaper it would be for patients to receive it and in turn, it would apply to more than just the privileged families.

Most adults don’t believe that school shootings are a reality in their community. Most children, in and out of school, do not believe that a school shooting is a possibility. But the gruesome truth about our warped reality is that it could happen. Today, people confront the mournful truth that it is not where the next shooting is, rather when at your school.