Catching School Shooters before they fall through the Cracks

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While driving my kids to school this morning, my 11-year-old daughter reminded me that it was likely that they’d have one more lockdown drill before school let out for summer on Friday. She hated being “suffocated” in a classroom closet..

When gunman, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, went on his killing spree last week at Santa Fe High School, one of his more sinister moments was when he screamed “Surprise, M*****F******” before shooting at kids who attempted to block him from the supply closet in which they were hiding.

OMG! In moments like this, acutely aware that I am the dad of a 9 and 11-year-old living in the U.S., I sometimes wonder: Do I need to get the hell out of this godforsaken country for the sake of my kids’ safetly, protection and wellbeing?

I could be forgiven..

I hope I could be forgiven for falling into such a desperate state of mind. Because I’m a parent and it passes..

But what doesn’t seem to pass—tragically and alarmingly—is the spate of these horrendous acts of terror; and the relentless conundrum of how we are to protect our children from such violence and insanity.

What I’m not going to address here is, the question of gun control, arming school teachers, the political posturing of politicians and our gridlocked congress that seems incapable of addressing the issues that need mature and morally courageous action. I’ve addressed these issues before on a number of news media sites and, frankly, I’m too pissed off at the moment to go at it again.

My concern here is the protection and wellbeing of my children—and the children of every family and ethnicity who live in this country.

The safest school in the country?

Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, IN has been referred to as possibly the safest school in the country. Why? Because it has invested a cool $400,000 in an active shooter defense system to protect itself in the event of another potential massacre.

The system comprises bullet-proof doors, cameras with a direct feed to the county sheriff’s office, teachers equipped with panic buttons and smoke cannons in hallways to thwart the movements of a shooter. The problem with this one, I surmise, is that if smoke-filled hallways thwart the movements of a shooter, wouldn’t they also thwart those of the police in pursuit of the killer?

Point being: yes, this is one example of a school spending heavily on the protection it feels it needs (and this is a relatively small school with merely a few hundred students); but what would it cost education boards nationwide to implement such a system in all public schools? Yep, multiple billions of dollars..

Where do we need to focus here?

Heavily (energy, time, money, political will) on much stricter gun-control regulations — Yes! But, more importantly I believe, on paying closer attention to the spiritual, moral and emotional development of our kids.

And I don’t mean here some kind of teen-shooter, trench-coat-wearing profiling of our kids. I mean, rather than spending billions on arming our teachers with panic buttons and guns, funding schools and at-risk homes with the wherewithal they need to support and help the kids most likely to fall through the cracks..

Not easy, I know. I’m well aware that elementary school kids and older are in chat rooms, on Instagram, Facebook etc. I’m also acutely aware that these cyber platforms, while perceived as being cool and popular, are among the most socially-isolated and loneliest “places” on the planet. And that—particularly for teens who are hormonally and emotionally navigating the most critcial period of development in their lives—is a sobering reality check in itself.

I get it

Sure, all the school guidance counselors, attentive parents and vigilant peers in the world, won’t necessarily stop an intelligent and highly disturbed teen from shooting up another school. I get it. I just want this rot to stop; for my kids and all kids and teachers to be safe; and for available funding to go where it is most needed.

Thoughts?

Gerard Murphy is the author of Do It Anyway: Deep Spirituality Meets Real Life (Patheos Press) – available on Amazon.

Cover Image: NBC-2.COM

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