, Gloucester, MA


March 23, 2013

My View: Supt. Safier on school security

On Dec. 21, on the heels of the Newtown/Sandy Hook tragedy, the National Rifle Association called for the placement of an armed police officer in every school in the country.

On March 27, the Gloucester School Committee will hold a public hearing on just this issue. The request for a public hearing calls for the funding and placing of armed police officers in each of our schools.

There are three questions for the district and the committee, that come from this communication and from the larger call for armed guards in all schools. How safe would such a move keep students? Would it be economically feasible? And, how would it alter student life?

Unspeakably horrific events such as what occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School have a deep emotional effect on all of us. The questions raised steer us toward a consideration of what can be done to minimize the possibility of such events from occurring. Yet, while shocking and senseless shootings give the impression of dramatic increases in school-related violence, national surveys consistently find that school-associated homicides have stayed essentially stable or even decreased slightly over time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s “School Associated Violent Death Study,” less than 1 percent of all homicides among school-age children happen on school grounds or on the way to and from school. The CDC also states that there is approximately one homicide or suicide of a school-age youth at school per 2.7 million students.

The presence of an armed individual in a school has rarely been a factor in putting an end to a tragic event. An editorial in the New York Times, dated Dec. 21, 2012, states that, in the 62 mass-murder cases that have occurred over the last 30 years, not one has been stopped by an armed individual. It is common knowledge that a sheriff’s deputy was at Columbine High School in 1999, and fired at one of the two killers while 11 of their 13 victims were still alive. He missed four times.

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