Don't turn schools into fortresses (Aaron Kupchik)

Armed guards might do more harm than good says the writer (a UD professor). Sure, we want to protect students, but where’s “the evidence” that the guards will make them safer? So while Senate Bill 215 [not previously reported on by the News Journal] may be well intentioned, it is also misguided. The gist of the proposal: Set aside $65M for school security equipment, which however could only be tapped by schools “that have at least two armed security guards in addition to any police officers already stationed on campus.”

One school death is too many, but let’s remember that students also get killed – in bigger numbers – by auto accidents or by suicides.

We shouldn’t make schools look/feel like fortresses. Adding large security staffs can create more problems than it solves. Too much visible security can create fear among students and be a distraction, notably metal detectors and/or armed security guards.

There is evidence that “schools with more armed guards have more student violence.” So it’s senseless to direct a large sum of money “to a strategy shown to be ineffective (and possibly even harmful).”

Better to spend extra money on mental health services and adolescent counseling. Thus, “students who feel alienated or who are experiencing trauma might be helped before they lash out.” Also, other students who felt threatened could report their concerns to someone. And heaven forbid that they should talk to the teachers, because the teachers are “overworked.”

This column asserts conclusions without meaningful discussion. The recommended policies sound like those that were in effect at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and which ended in 17 shooting deaths by a seriously disturbed young man that everyone knew about but no one dealt with.
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