2018-04-12 / Views

Let’s put school safety in perspective

At the risk of heading north into a southbound school bus, maybe it’s time to reflect a bit before going all-out to ramp up school safety.

One part of the safety discussion must be that schools, by their nature, should be accessible to the community. It says a message when doors are locked.

We’re not saying public safety isn’t important. We are saying that balance is needed to prevent turning schools into prisons.

We’ve not come across a single account of a school shooting throughout the history of Leelanau County, and we cannot recall a student being shot and killed in a K-12 school in northern Michigan. According to a story for the Washington Post written by Harvard professor David Ropeik, since Columbine awakened the public’s eyes on the subject in 1999 some 200 public school students have been shot to death on school grounds. That means the statistical likelihood of a public school student being killed by a gun on any given day is one in 614 million.

“And since the 1990s, shootings at schools have been getting less common,” Ropeik wrote.

The finding includes inner-city schools prone to violence. Leelanau is a completely different place.

A perusal of school shootings listed online shows that most involved handguns taken illegally onto school campuses by present or former students. Short of setting up a full body scanner at entrances to school parking lots, how do you prevent that from happening?

One of the best preventative measures is to provide a high level of involvement between teachers and their students. When students appear depressed, which is common, teachers in Leelanau seem to go the extra mile to help.

We’ll take that over posting an armed guard at the bus drop-off all five days of the school week.

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