Mass school shootings will only increase if officials continue to ignore facts, parents, and survivors. Find out how in this article!
by Kimberly Pangaro | Kimberly is a mom of four daughters and the owner of the lifestyle parenting media company Atomic Mommy. When she’s not running her company or momming all day, she’s writing about family life. Follow her on Instagram @atomic_mommy.
This post contains affiliate links. To learn more about affiliate links and how they work, please read our Affiliate Disclaimer HERE.
According to the ACLU, mass school shootings are rare, and that is why having a School Resource Officer should not be a policy. According to its members, an SRO or School Resource Officer, only further criminalizes youth. But mass school shootings are far from over.
In fact, the last academic school year of 2021-2022, between Aug. 1 and May 31, saw 193 incidents of gunfire, more than doubling the total of the previous year. Months after the Uvalde, Texas tragedy, it’s quite astonishing that schools across the country have not begun placing more School Resource Officers on campus and adding more technologically advanced policies to protect the children and teachers.
Survivors like Mehle and her mother, Tina Quintanilla-Taylor. Mehle survived the Uvalde shooting. But when it was time to go back to school, a new school no less, with no visible police officers and a skimpy fence, Mehle told her mother, “I don’t feel safe”. So, why aren’t the so-called experts and school officials listening to the survivors of mass school shootings? And why are the policies falling short even though the factual evidence is clear?
Sadly, what happened in Uvalde, Texas did not wake up the school districts, and Federal laws have left the responsibility of preventing future threats, like Uvalde, to be handled on a state and municipal level. An example of this can be seen with the 2018 Santa Fe high school shooting in Texas, where an armed high school student killed 10. When that incident happened, Governor Abott of Texas put into place a “hardened” policy on such events. However, this did not prevent the Uvalde school shooting from happening. In a review of the 2019 policy from Governor Abott, it was found that school districts did not receive as much aid as promised, teachers did not sign up to bring guns to work, and their school districts did not have an active shooter plan in place.
But according to experts, Governor Abott’s hardened policy against school shootings does not prove to be effective. According to Jagdish Khubchandani, a public health professor at New Mexico State, schools across the country already practice the security measures that public officials often promote, including locked doors, security cameras, and some with active shooter plans.
So, if the experts do not believe that a hardened policy will effectively combat the frequency of mass school shootings in this country, then should parents give up hope that mass school shootings can be deterred? No, I think not. It is time for the experts, public officials, and school administrators to allow parents to weigh in on the matter. We should be given the right to assist in developing a more in-depth, comprehensive approach; one that could be better than what is currently offered. Parents across the country are finally weighing in, myself included, on what other areas of defense we could apply to this country-wide demolition of our youth.
The answer may lie in technology. There has been a surge in technological advancements over the years, and tech tools, like bulletproof windows, fingerprint door handles and locks, metal detectors, bulletproof classroom doors, bulletproof backpacks for kids, and Hide-Away-Safe-Rooms, to name a few. These advances have parents confused as to why these tools are not being used. Furthermore, some parents across the country are wondering why something as simple as providing metal detectors at every entrance inside schools are not being considered.
In major cities like New York City, where scanning is embedded into the daily routine, the statistics prove such a policy could prevent weapons from entering the schools. According to a review of over 90,000 NYC students during the 2013-2014 school year, 712 weapons were found by the metal detectors in schools. If every high school student currently at a scanning school was scanned each school day, approximately 15,964,020 scans would occur over one school year — that would amount to one dangerous item being found for about every 23,034 scans.
Unfortunately, schools rely a great deal on government funding from their respective states. And while the above tech tools could be expensive, their purchase should be a top priority over things like getting new white boards or new chromebooks. No parent wants to see another Uvalde happen in their district.
So, why aren’t the schools and public officials finally using technology to advance their defense systems against mass school shootings? Because the average age of school officials is 46 years old, many of whom grew up in a period of time when mass school shootings were not frequent like today.
Ballotpedia places the amount of school shootings from 1990 to 1999 as only having 80 incidents of school shootings, versus 2010 to 2019 with 142 incidents of gun shootings. Yet, from 2020 to presently, there have already been 108 incidents. Since the bulk of school administrators in the U.S. attended elementary and high school during the 1990’s, and grew up without mass social media or the vast school shootings we are seeing today, it is safe to say that their policy making mindsets are embedded with the culture of their youth.
While many may view this theory as just that, I made a point of attending my school districts’ most recent Board of Education meeting in my hometown of Carlstadt, New Jersey, where a new policy was unveiled as advantageous in combating an active shooter situation. Whilst attending, the Superintendent stated that the new policy is in contract with the local police department to have one officer, different each day, patrolling inside the school. When parents questioned the Superintendent on why only one officer was being brought in, her comment was, “This is what the budget allows and is the contract the police department agreed to.” But when it comes to the safety of our children, it doesn’t meet the standards as being the safer option. Here’s why.
According to a 2019 review, “Protecting America’s Schools, A U.S. Secret Service Analysis Of Targeted School Violence,” by the United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, which studied 41 incidents of targeted school violence that occurred at K-12 schools in the United States from 2008 to 2017, it found that in 27 out of 41 cases or 60% of them, a Security Officer or SRO was assigned to the school on either a full-time or part-time basis. During 20 of the cases or 49% of the attacks, the officer was on-duty at the school. In 12 cases or 29% of the attacks, an SRO made it to the scene of the attack in one minute. However, in 3 attacks, it took an officer between one and five minutes to respond, and in two cases, it took officers between five and ten minutes to respond. This means that out of 41 attacks, 5 were not responded to in an appropriate time to stop the attacker from injuring or killing. Further data reveals that 83% of the attacks reviewed occurred in 5 minutes or less.
With this knowledge in-hand, it makes more safety sense for school districts like mine, to hire more than one SRO to be on-duty during the school day. But without local municipality and state intervention, school districts have their hands tied. Many school districts’ budgets do not allow more than one officer on-duty within the school or to make modern upgrades to the schools’ infrastructure for better prevention efforts. As such, the changes needed to combat active shooter situations may never take place, leaving parents, children, and communities at the mercy of these shooters. And if the data tell us anything, the number of mass shootings in schools can be expected to double by 2025 when compared to what’s happened in previous academic years. So, what’s to be done?
We must become preventative and not reactive, in our policy-making choices. Public officials must come together with the parenting community to develop a deeply comprehensive policy that is up-to-date with today’s mass school shooting statistics, and must leave behind the antiquated thinking that has kept our children in harm’s way. But if parents don’t get more involved in political activism within their districts, then the laws and policies will remain as ineffective as they have been against mass school shootings. And that would be detrimental to the well-being of our children and their futures. So parents, get involved and ask the tough questions. Challenge the status quo because it’s not working in our children’s favor anymore!