Gun Violence in Schools

Discussion in 'General Education' started by missrebecca, Oct 9, 2015.

  1. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Oct 9, 2015

    I'm hesitant to post this, but am truly curious about what other teachers have to say. This mostly applies to teachers in the US. Also, I'm not sure if this is the correct subforum -- if not, I apologize. I couldn't find similar threads using the search feature, so if they exist, please let me know! :)

    As there have been numerous school shootings, how do you as a teacher feel about gun violence in schools? Is it something you (or your students) worry about? Does your school have an emergency plan in case of a shooting? What do you believe the government's role should be in regard to gun violence in schools?
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I think about it from time to time, but I don't lose any sleep over it. Chances of it happening are higher than they once were, for sure, but they're still relatively low overall. I figure that, if it does happen, then we'll figure out how good our plan - that we practice repeatedly - actually is... I also figure that there is nothing I can do to directly prevent it, so I just have to keep moving along and hope for the best.
     
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  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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  5. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    If someone wants to bring a gun into a school, shopping mall, movie theatre, church, etc.--they're going to do it regardless of whatever barriers/precautions are in place.

    My teachers and I have been through ALICE training and we also have a school safety plan that our staff developed last year.

    I'd take a bullet for any of my kiddos!
     
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  6. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I too think about it but don't lose any sleep over it. We have been through ALICE training. I talk about it with my kiddos and we have a number of plans in place depending on the situation (evacuation, barricade, etc...)

    I read the onion article earlier this week and loved it. It accurately reflected everything I feel. I believe we also need to change the way we diagnose and treat mental health in this country. I don't have any good answers, but it makes me very sad.
     
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  7. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Yes, we do have an emergency plan that was put in place after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut.

    I am at an Elementary school which lowers the probability of a shooting a bit, so I am not what I would call "scared". Although, I am more sensitive to keeping the students safe on the playground and in other areas of school. I don't want to increase the odds of something happening by being neglectful in any way.

    I am far more nervous though of the commute to and from school where the odds of a fatal accident dramatically increase. I am a bit nervous for my students and myself about that, but I wouldn't say scared.
     
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  8. otterpop

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    I think about it now and then but not regularly. I did have a talk with my class about it, which is hard to do with elementary kids. We talked about what to do during a lockdown, why (the bare minimum - in case there was an unsafe situation outside), and why it was so important to stay quiet. As a school, we haven't had any training. We do have a lockdown procedure, but it is pretty bare bones.
     
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  9. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Thanks for sharing! I wish our school would do ALICE training. We are a charter and don't have very good precautions in place. There are suggested emergency procedures, like having a large paper ready to cover our classroom windows, that not every teacher has.

    We've had a lot of gun violence in our area recently, including random car shootings on a major highway that went on for a couple of weeks. Some teachers used alternate routes to get to work and literally lost sleep trying to avoid areas where the highway shootings were taking place. So gun violence has been a big topic of discussion in my school recently.
     
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  10. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    We've been through one ALICE meeting (If you want to call it a training by watching a video and someone describing what ALICE is with a power point, then there you go...), and we have talked about a scenario. Oh, and we've had 2 fire drills.

    Do I feel like we're ready to take action and make sure our students are safe and out of the building? I can honestly say, no. We're not. And I don't think any school is really ready. We just have to do what we can for precautions and take each day as we're supposed to---while doing our jobs.

    Do I feel more prepared for a fire? Yes. Absolutely.
     
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  11. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Sandy Hook happened while I was a student teacher. I remember thinking everything was going to change, and that I was going to have to stay in college longer because parents were going to stop allowing student teachers into schools without a lot more vetting and procedures.

    I'm only in my second year of teaching and we have not done a drill (other than the required fire drills at the beginning of the year) yet. I had to ask about our policy. I wasn't even shown a PowerPoint or trained. My school is woefully unprepared and has zero added safety features. We have no security guard.

    That being said, even this early into my career, the day I'm asked to carry a gun is the day I quit. I disagree strongly with the idea of teachers carrying weapons and being considered "the first line of defense."
     
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  12. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I think about it sometimes. I actually think I'm overly cavalier about the potential. I was remarking to another teacher recently that when I'm confronting a student or am in a "risky" situation, it never really occurs to me that someone could have a weapon until the situation is over.

    A student (supposedly) brought a gun into my classroom a couple of years ago. I knew he was a gang member (several of my students are), but i never thought about them being armed. A couple days after he supposedly had it, another student approached me and told me that he'd been showing it off but that the first student had been scared to say anything (snitches get stitches). He was searched but didn't have a weapon that day, so who knows.

    I do think that if it happened in my school, it would be a situation of one student specifically seeking to attack another student rather than random violence, but again, that's the bias of knowing we have gang activity.
     
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  13. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I think it would be reasonable for every school to have a security officer and locked campus.
     
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  14. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    A locked campus I can buy. Security officer at every school I absolutely can't agree with. At the vast majority of schools, that person would do nothing but leech money that could otherwise go to additional instructional staff. Additionally, a lot of issues which today would typically get resolved either by a teacher, counselor, or administrator would probably get turned over to a security officer (on the grounds that they are being paid anyway, so might as well use them)... and there is literally no good whatsoever that would come from THAT taking place.
     
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  15. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I'm surprised not all schools practice lockdown and evacuation drills. We have been required to do lockdowns as long as I can remember. We are now required to do evacuation drills too. We also have fire drills and tornado drills, of course.
     
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  16. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I was surprised to learn that isn't the case everywhere. We have two security officers, our SRO (and actual police officer paid by the police force) and also use our ROTC instructors (in uniform) on duty during peak hours (before and after school and during lunch.) The kids all complain about not being able to sneak off campus for lunch, but admit that they feel safe having that many adults in uniform who are trained to protect them.

    We do monthly fire drills, two severe weather drills a year, and one lockdown drill a year. We do not do an active shooter drill as of yet. We also have a policy to keep our doors to our classrooms locked, and if we see an unknown person on campus we ask them who they are and casually escort them to the office to sign in and get a visitor pass, by saying something like, "Oh this building is so confusing, let me just walk you to the office."

    I feel safe. I teach on the 2nd floor and know that if anything started on the first floor it likely wouldn't make it to me before the SRO or ROTC guys or security officers slowed the threat down, at least. My door is always locked, and the windows in my room are tiny, and our building is approved as a nuclear fallout shelter, so the walls are really thick. In the case of an active shooter, I'd have my students move into the corner away from the windows and door, and make a barricade of desks in front of the door and in front of the students.

    Oh, and I can assure you that even with all of our security employees we still have plent of instructional specialists.
     
  17. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    8 years ago, the state police held a workshop on what we would do in a situation involving a gun. We were given standard procedures, BUT we were also cautioned that every situation would be different. The idea behind the standard procedures was so that every teacher/responding police officer would know what the other teachers were probably already doing.

    I'm personally in favor of how our local schools are using security officers--they are for emergencies, only, not to take the place of school counselors; but I also see gr3teacher's point, and agree that such procedures tend to deteriorate that way. I think ours might be paid by the county not the BOE, but I'm not certain, and they cover public and private schools. I question whether teachers should carry a weapon. An armed victim is sometimes in more danger than an unarmed victim. If a teacher would hesitate in actually killing an intruder, then the weapon would be of no use. Also, I wonder if in such a situation panic could lead to accidentally shooting a wrong person or missing the target and shooting another victim. If a school would arm teachers, I would think the teachers would need police officer-like training to effectively use the weapons due to the above reasons.
     
  18. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    The reasons I'd oppose arming teachers is because it would undoubtedly lead to tragedies. A kid accidentally getting hold of the gun. The gun being handled carelessly. A teacher having "temporary insanity." A tense situation with a student turning into a shooting. From my perspective, it's not an "if" these things would occur, or even if it would be worse than the potential lives saved. It's a question of how many more lives would be cost than otherwise. Basically, it's the same thinking about why the United States has more people killed by police in an average month than England has in an average decade. You give people a gun, and all of a sudden problems are going to look like they have a gun-shaped solution.
     
  19. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    The reason, quite frankly, why so many people, teachers included, don't lose sleep over things like this is that it is so unlikely to happen at a given school that it doesn't register. We as a species are incredibly good at filtering out non-threats, it is part of our biology. It's the same reason we don't panic whenever we get in a car.

    Should we have plans in place? Of course. Should we have security at schools? Of course. Should we lead our kids to believe this is in any way likely to happen? Of course not.

    The whole guns argument is a red herring in both directions. 9/11 didn't involve guns. Ankara just this week didn't involve guns. Bad people find ways to do bad things. It is easier for us to have silly political arguments than to get to the core of the fact that bad people exist.
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Some schools would have to be completely redesigned in order to be completely locked. Many/most of the schools in my district (there are hundreds) are of an open design with open breezeways and classrooms that open directly onto the grounds. Many schools have multiple buildings and portable classrooms.

    My district is large enough that we have our own full police force. Most schools have at least one armed police officer on campus at all times; some have two or more. I do like having a police officer on campus, especially at a rougher school where incidents that happened off-campus over the weekend sometimes spill onto campus later.

    I don't agree with the suggestion to arm teachers.

    I also disagree with the lockdown procedures determined by my school district. I would prefer that we do something like ALICE training, but I obviously have no say whatsoever in that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  21. Backroads

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    Another forum I frequent is having a very similar conversation.

    As an elementary school teacher (even with an attached jr. high) this isn't a high concern to me. We're in a good neighborhood despite being inner city, but we do have a bad neighborhood not too far off. We have lockdown procedures that we practice and the door is usually locked, but we generally don't get too concerned about who comes in when ringing the bell. There's the rub. I hate to make community and family members go through an entire background check to visit the school, and yet no one wants a school shooting. With school shootings still being extremely rare in the grand scheme of things, at what point do you shackle the community in the name of protection?

    I think the government should require schools to have protection plans, but leave the nitty-gritty up to the individual communities and schools. I'm not altogether opposed to security staff. I'm fine with teachers being allowed to conceal carry if that's what they do, but a mass arming of teachers seems a hassle as well as a potential risk.
     
  22. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    One of my husband's colleagues recently asked him if I worry about this happening. I don't think about it often, but every time there's another public shooting in the news, I have to think about it. Our campus is huge and open on all sides -- there's no way to patrol who has access to our campus or to have metal detectors. We had an active shooter situation last year with the police chasing down and cornering the suspect right across the street from our school -- I was on another campus that day but it was scary to even think about.

    We have had no official training as a staff. We had one planned fire drill and one accidental alarm (burglar alarm went off). This unplanned event occurred during passing time and students were running all over, confused about which teacher to report to. It was chaotic and I couldn't help thinking that this was exactly the kind of scenario that could happen in a real emergency. We don't need to be paranoid and carry guns (I'm with allara and that would be the day I would quit teaching), but we do need to have a solid plan in place and practice it, and not just under ideal circumstances, but in more realistic scenarios (unplanned, during passing time, etc).
     
  23. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Our one junior high and one high school share an SRO. He also goes to the intermediate and elementary schools when he is called. There haven't been too many times where he's been called to the elementary/intermediate schools. Our schools have strict entrances so it would be very difficult for anyone without a key to get in which makes me feel safe when I'm campuses.

    I don't think many of our teachers fear anything like this happening on their campuses. I wouldn't feel right as a classroom teacher having a gun on my person/in my room, even though I am very comfortable around guns and have shot them for most of my life.
     
  24. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I had also meant to say that, while no school can ever say "this will never happen here," our school is doing some very specific things to proactively make all students feel cared for and a part of the community. Our students say there is very little bullying or ostracism going on, at least compared to the high school on the other side of town. Our school is very diverse socio-economically and there isn't that dynamic of have or have not, in or out, the way there is on some campuses. So while our campus is physically open to threats, I feel we are creating a safe community in that students feel safe and like they belong here.
     
  25. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    In Michigan, it is legal to open-carry in schools as long as you are licensed. I disagree with this 1000000000%. One school district tried to prohibit a parent from carrying on campus and he sued the district. I feel that guns do not belong on campus unless being carried by a police officer. I know that criminals will bring a gun onto a campus regardless of the law, but I feel allowing weapons on campus is dangerous regardless of who is carrying it.
     
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  26. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    It's legal in Texas, too. However, our district policy allows us to restrict where vistors go on campus at any given time. So if a parent shows up armed, we are to call the district police department, an officer will come, and he/she will escort the parent wherever they want to go on campus.
     
  27. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    This has been all over the news around here for the last year. I was just reading an article about an hour ago- a district went into lockdown because someone came to pick up their child and was open-carrying. People are ripping the school to shreds because they wasted educational time going into a lockdown, plus they wasted police resources.
    How the heck are school personnel supposed to judge the intent of the person carrying?!
     
  28. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I don't know how I feel about the legalities of open-carry (I'll defend the rights of concealed carry to quite the extent, though) but it strikes me as a common-sense fail to open-carry on a school campus. Come on, is it really worth the drama?
     
  29. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Really not a fan of our countries gun fetish. I don't think having everyone armed makes us safer, in fact, my experience tells me it is going to escalate problems.
     
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  30. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    From Eddie Izzard, one of my favorite comedians (speaking from a British perspective): The National Rifle Association says that, "Guns don't kill people, uh, people do." But I think, I think the gun helps. You know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, "Bang!" That's not going to kill too many people, is it? You'd have to be really dodgy on the heart to have that.
     
  31. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yeah, some people do not want to admit that a gun changes the "pyschology" of a person.I go from the most timid weakling to the baddest *&*^^&**&&&^*&^ in the room...with a gun. It CHANGES how one deals with a problem.
     
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  32. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    The chance that gunfire and injury will happen is much greater if there's an actual gun in the room. If not... well, it's hard to be shot by a gun that's not there.
     
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  33. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    It isn't legal to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds here. You have to have a CPL to carry and you can only open carry. o_O I don't get it.
     
  34. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    After reading and responding, this thread was on my mind all morning! I thought about several actual incidents that happened at the schools where I've taught, city and rural schools, fortunately all were benign, but serious enough to take appropriate action. A major concern I've experienced in schools and read about--sometimes teachers and office personnel are hesitant to respond, wondering if the situation is serious enough and what response to use. I remember reading that teachers at Columbine assumed the gunshots were firecrackers. (I wonder if a possible precaution would be, if a teacher is planning a noisy activity that might sound like gunshots or another emergency situation, to pre-alert other teachers and staff of the approximate time of the activity).

    I agree with other posters above that a dangerous situation is often unlikely in a school, but somewhere something is possibly going to happen again. I don't know that mathematical probability totally applies to this type of problem; one out of several thousand schools doesn't sound like much of a chance in a lottery, but this type of situation is not mathematically random. These situations involve people who decide to do something wrong.

    People who commit violent acts are everywhere.
     
  35. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If somebody is going to do something creepy like carrying a gun into a school, I'd much rather they do it out in the open so that I know instantly to keep myself and my students away from them, and to keep an eye on them as much as possible. If they openly carry a gun, then I know that they are one mistimed word, or one accident away from killing somebody. If they conceal carry, I wouldn't know those things until it's too late.
     
  36. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    (I sent the above post yesterday, but I must have made an error in sending it, because it was still on my computer waiting to be sent this morning). Since posting, I've had a different direction in my thinking. Instead of being reactive, perhaps we need to become proactive concerning this potential threat. We're trained professionals who know our students and who know our environment and local area.

    Perhaps we need planning sessions to add our input with local police, psychologists, and counselors to discuss prevention and strategies. Such a panel could possibly include unusual participants, perhaps local professionals in other fields, who would see the situation from another perspective and perhaps add ideas that we were overlooking. (I'm thinking carpenters, repairmen, businessmen, the clergy, news reporters--someone outside the field of education and law enforcement).

    Another idea might be to conduct videoed simulations during the off season of various possible scenarios to study and find possible solutions that might avert or prevent such a catastrophe. Watching ourselves actually responding might provide more clues than just thinking about how we would respond. Actors in the simulation could be education students from local colleges who could receive credit for their participation. A further plan might be to use computer simulations, which would provide a unique perspective and insight.

    Finally, since sometimes the problem originates from within the school among the students, not just gun violence, but bomb threats, fights, false fire drills, bullying, etc., I'm seeing more and more how essential our friendly smiles, encouraging words, and listening ears are to our students!
     
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  37. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    I recall the shock on my highschool students faces when we first visited US high schools in Chicago and all bags etc had to go through an airport style xray machine and everyone went through a metal detector! Something that does not exist in the UK (or if it does it is extremely rare).

    However I think the genie is out of the bottle as far as guns are concerned in your country. No President or Governor is ever going to enact anti gun laws as they would be out of office pretty quick if they did.

    having said that I never felt threatened anywhere in the Chicago public school system neither did I feel threatened anywhere on the streets (and we went to some pretty dodgy areas).
     
  38. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Blazer, this is still pretty rare in the US, too, at least in my experience. I previously taught in an inner city area and none of the local schools had metal detectors. I have heard of this only in the "worst" areas in Los Angeles and other major cities.

    In reality, the major school shootings (mass shootings, not gang- or drug-related) have not been in "bad" or "tough" neighborhoods at all. I grew up in the town next door to Sandy Hook, and you could not imagine a more sleepy, quaint, quiet little New England town. If anyone had proposed putting in metal detectors pre-shooting, they would have been laughed out of town. That being said, there were *two* gun shops in my small town, for a population of 30,000. So guns were available in the community, and I guess were part of the culture (although I never witnessed this beyond driving past the gun shop). The students from Sandy Hook are now at the campus where I went to middle school.

    So I guess I'm trying to say that our attempts to respond to violence in schools have so far been completely short-sighted. We still think of this as something that happens in "bad neighborhoods" when really, it could happen anywhere. Anywhere. If it could happen in sleepy Sandy Hook, it could happen in any town.

    The question is, what are we willing and able to do to prevent this from happening again?
     
  39. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Honestly, I'm surprised that teachers aren't more outspoken about gun violence in schools. It seems like some of us worry about it more than others... but our workplaces have been a known target for these violent acts. It's sad that we don't all have proper security measures in place. There's only so much you can do to prevent violence, but our school boards and government could at least make it look like they're trying. I'm glad that some of you feel secure in your school.
     
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  40. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I don't know of any schools in my area of CA that have the type of security you're describing, Blazer.
     
  41. El sol

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    Oct 15, 2015

    I can understand earthquake drills, fire drills, shelter in place drills but the idea of active shooter drills seems a bit out there for teachers. Without going into technicalities or possibilities and the what-ifs, from a nation-wide perspective, it is quite ridiculous for teachers/staff to be prepared for anything inside a school when as a society, and specially in politics, nothing effective is being done to prevent active shooter situations. Please don't take this as political, even though it may seem to be. This is merely an observation made by an outsider looking at how American politics and lobbying works and how that has an effect on schools but not on society in a productive way was a whole.
     

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