Mindful that a school shooting, while statistically rare, is as likely here as anywhere, school officials are increasing security and raising awareness about dangerous behaviors in hopes of preventing tragedy.
Schools are dedicated to keeping children safe, but parents and the community must share responsibility.
A series of stories that began in the Sunday Mail Tribune outlined measures to make school buildings less vulnerable to an intruder. Security challenges vary. At Ashland High School, which was designed to mimic a college campus, the open architecture means more entry points, not fewer. Ashland is in discussion with security experts about potential changes, and the district is considering a ballot measure to address safety measures.
Educators also are emphasizing student counseling and staff training to catch behavioral issues that could lead to tragedy. In Medford and Eagle Point, that means more mental health counselors; Ashland chose to hire more academic counselors instead. Both approaches are valid. The important thing is that school officials are monitoring students’ emotional well-being.
That’s where parents and others come in. In retrospect, school shooters have exhibited warning behaviors that could have averted tragedy if someone had intervened. Many youths who manifest them will never act out violently. But parents attentive to their children’s behavior and what they are thinking and feeling are a key element in getting them help. The same goes for other relatives, family and friends.
Even the most secure building cannot be completely invulnerable. Caring for students’ emotional well-being is vital, and takes a village.