What we're doing to keep our schools safe in Delaware (Stephanie Hansen)
In addition to being a DE senator (10th District), Hansen serves on the Appoquinimink Safe School Task Force. She begins this column with the thought that "nothing matters more to a parent than their kids' safety and education." Given this year's school shootings in Parkland (Feb. 14, 17 dead) and Santa Fe (May 19, 10 dead), "are we doing enough to protect our schools?"
As a former scientist, Hansen starts with research, which is why she and her team organized a June forum at which the public "could hear from actual experts on the subject, including school district officials, mental health advocates, and law enforcement." Data were compiled and p;resented on the 317 recorded school shootings in the US since Sandy Hook (12/14/12, 26 dead).
A barrage of statistics are recited: average shooter is 17 years old, generally male, about 50% likely to be a current student, Common triggers: prior disputes, athletic/social events (18%), gangs/rival groups (17%).
"Reported mental health issues only accounted for 13%, which aligns with what we already know: people with mental illnesses are more likely to be harmed than they are to cause harm. Comment: this sounds dubious. Note that the Parkland, Santa Fe and Sandy Hook school shooters all had apparent mental problems, whether they were being treated for such problems or not..
Handguns were the most common weapon of choice; assault rifles were the least common, but most devastating. 3/4 of school shootings happened outside; 2/3 were not during school hours.'' Curious that the writer doesn't advocate more stringent gun controls, which has been her party's principal goal.
Six months before Sandy Hook, Sen. David Sokola introduced the Omnibus School Safety Act, which required the development of comprehensive school safety plans with law enforcement involvement.
In January 2017, Rep. Earl Jacques & Sen. Nicole Poore introduced House Bill 49 (which was passed unanimously) requiring new school construction and major reconstructions to include security features such as secured vestibules, panic buttons and electronically locked classroom doors. We also approved a bond bill that allocated $5M in school safety funds and $15M in minor capital improvement funding that can be used for school safety investments. It will take a long time for these measures to achieve a substantial improvement in school security. What about having on-site security, whether that means armed officers or selected teachers who are willing to carry concealed firearms?
Such school hardening policies give us peace of mind, but we need to do more than respond to school shootings if they happen, we need to prevent them. That means "an overdue conversation on counseling resources in our schools," because - as the saying goes - "it takes a village." No indication of what Hansen has in mind, e.g., people who would be hired and cost.