The superintendent of our school district called my cell phone Monday morning and left a message inviting me to watch the school board meeting on public access cable on Monday night. The first thing I have to say is DAMN! School board meetings are BORING!
As promised, the superintendent spoke about school security, and rather early in the meeting (thank heaven!). While he talked a lot about locked doors and security cameras, crisis preparedness and how closely the school district works with the city’s police and fire departments, he didn’t mention anything about EDUCATION.
I really think many of our current school violence problems can be alleviated through education. We need to TEACH kids how to deal with their stress just like we teach them language, mathematics and how to avoid drug use. We need to show children that it’s not okay to cope with your problems with violence. As responsible adults in schools and other child-rich environments, we need to be aware of which of our students come from homes and family situations that may be prone to pass, shall we say, less-than-ideal social skills to the students. We need to know which students share their homes with guns.
Let me say that again: We need to know which children share their homes with guns.
Why do I want to invade the general privacy of some families by knowing whether the household owns a gun? The same superintendent who spoke about door locks and security cameras wrote to me last week in response to my email. He told me that, when he was principal of my daughters’ school about ten years ago, a fifth grader brought a .375 to school, and that the weapon had been discharged in a classroom by accident. Locks on school doors and security cameras would have done nothing to prevent this.
When I was strolling up and down our city’s main street during the annual autumn festival this past weekend, I saw that our police station had a tent set up along side the merchants and service companies. An officer stood in full uniform behind a bin of trigger locks. A bin of FREE trigger locks. A bin of free trigger locks standing behind a sign that essentially said “please take one – no questions asked.” While no one was hurt in the .357 incident, a trigger lock could have prevented the punchline of the whole story (though it could be argued that a nine year old having access to a gun in the first place should be a felony offense on the part of the parents).
It’s all about education. We need to teach parents to be responsible with the care and keeping of whatever weapons they feel they need to possess. We need to teach children to deal with their feelings in socially acceptable ways. We need to teach everyone to see themselves in others and to do no harm.