2018-02-22 / Opinion

Editorial

School Safety is in Our Hands

Over the past month or so, this editorial space has been mostly given over to our readers, so they can voice their opinions and concerns about local issues. As you can see, there is still robust dialogue on a variety of topics.

This week we know that the whole Newport school community is feeling a sense of loss and pain because of the recent passing of beloved principal of Thompson Middle School, Jamie Crowley, and affable, all-around athlete McKenzie Leno (18), a Rogers 2017 graduate.

Crowley, who had been an educator since college graduation, had been at Thompson since 2011. The community rallied in 2016 when he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder.

Given the sorrow of our community over the loss of Crowley and Leno, we cannot even fathom the pain and shock that the school community in Florida is experiencing in the aftermath of the slaying of 14 students and three staff on their school grounds last week.

That same evening of the shooting, Wednesday, Feb. 14, our own city council while in session was discussing increased security measures at Rogers High School. It was a scheduled agenda item on the docket from the previous week. The short discussion focused on various safety measures, including the award of a contract for installation of security cameras and door locks.

While we hope that such tragedies as Parkland, Florida (2018), or Benton, Kentucky (2018), or Newtown, Connecticut (2013), or Littleton, Colorado (1999) would never occur here, we also hope that these events will make people more cognizant of the rare and random possibility that those types of tragedies actually could occur here. Or anywhere.

But what can we do to decrease the likelihood of it?

Some states are considering proposals that would allow teachers to have access to guns in schools: Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and South Carolina.

Is this the solution? A gun for a gun?

Some say education is the answer, while others say that only direct action – such as banning certain types of weapons – is the way to go.

For our part, on our island, we hope that school administrators are implementing and practicing safety drills. We hope that parents and students are reporting social media posts to the police that contain references to violence. We hope that the community will hold our leadership accountable for keeping us safe – whatever that involves.

But hope only gets us so far.

We don’t know yet what the solution is to the problem of school violence. But keeping our community safe is now in the hands of everyone.

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