Most people would call this a terrible idea that’s fraught with danger. But a Nebraska lawmaker has just filed a bill to give school districts the option of allowing teachers to carry concealed guns. State Sen. Mark Christensen says teachers with gun permits and proper training might deter a tragedy. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, this idea follows two school shootings in the last three weeks:
An Omaha high school senior killed an assistant principal and wounded a principal, before shooting himself. A Los Angeles student with a gun in her book bag accidentally wounded two other kids. The only school system in the country that has a concealed weapons policy is in rural Harrold, Texas. School Superintendent David Thweatt says police in his county are 30 minutes away, and his tiny school system cannot afford School Resource Officers. Their policy requires extensive training, and the use of certain types of bullets that cut down on ricochet and collateral damage. Forty-three states, including Georgia, prohibit guns in K-12 schools. And the idea of arming teachers is not popular with experts. School security consultant Ken Trump warns that concealed weapons would not make schools safer. Daniel Vice from the Brady Center says guns in the classroom would be extremely dangerous and the risk of accidents is too high.
Fast food restaurants and shopping centers for years have had better security than many schools. Yet there are still people questioning security measures, such as cameras and police officers, being placed in our schools. In most fast food restaurants, you can only enter through a limited number of open doors. When you step inside, you are usually promptly greeted and asked how you can be helped. Many of these facilities have surveillance cameras inside and out, and even at the drive-through windows. Too often, we still do not see this level of security in some of our nation’s schools . Seriously – think about it: For years we have protected hamburger better than our school children and teachers. I find it interesting not only many students, but also many adults, don’t have a problem with police, security cameras, and other protection measures for their suburban shopping mall security or at a fast food restaurant. Yet some of these same individuals believe we should have a lower standard of protection for students and teachers in schools.
Does bullying cause suicide? You would think so if you read and hear some of the headlines, comments, and advocacy by anti-bullying law special interests following several suicides completed by youth who were reported victims of chronic bullying at school. I certainly do not question whether these kids were bullied. I do not question whether the bullying added significant stress to the lives of these kids and others who are chronically bullied. And I definitely do not minimize the seriousness of the losses of these innocent kids’ lives. But I am also not convinced that bullying onto itself is the sole cause of teens taking their own life. Being “bullied to death” makes quite a media headline and soundbite. But does it accurately reflect the sole cause of death implied by the use of such a phrase? I can see where chronic bullying could be the last straw in cases where deeper mental health issues exist with an individual, driving the individual over-the-top to completion of suicide.
“We’re the federal government, and we’re here to help investigate you.”
The Education and Justice Departments are now taking on investigatory and prosecutorial roles against school districts on bullying and harassment cases. Historically their roles have centered on research, along with funding prevention and intervention programs on these issues. The U.S. Department of Education and its Office of Civil Rights reaffirmed last week it would be “vigorously” investigating local school districts on complaints against the districts related to bullying and harassment. The Department’s statement followed up on presentations made by Education Department officials at their “bullying summit” two weeks ago where they announced they would be “proactively investigating” schools on bullying complaints. Last week the Justice Department entered the fray by filing an “amicus curiae” or “friend of the court” motion in a federal discrimination lawsuit against the Indian River Central School District in New York. The case involves claims of discrimination (based on sex) by the school district in connection with harassment, physical assaults, and threats against a gay former student. The suit reportedly claims the district refused to help him and refused to allow him to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at the high school. According to the news report, the lawsuit was brought by Lambda Legal, a national organization that defends the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Parents don’t know what they don’t know, and nobody is rushing to tell them. School crime statistics overall are underreported and unreliable. Student Victimization in U.S. Schools: Results For the 2007 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey was released this week. It didn’t take long for Tweets to pop up on Twitter announcing the report’s citations on students who were victims of bullying. The report highlighted “findings” which were so obvious, one would have to ask why the federal government would even ask such questions and perhaps more importantly, why they would think it would be some major revelation to readers:
“The percentage of student victims of violent crimes who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school (23.2 percent) was higher than that of nonvictims (4.9 percent) (figure 5 and table 7)”
“A higher percentage of students reporting any crime avoided specific places at school because of fear of attack or harm than did nonvictims (13.1 percent vs.