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Les Potter is currently the director of the American International School West in Cairo, Egypt. Les has over 40 years in educational leadership in the US and Egypt and most recently has been a...
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School Shooting in Florida

Here we go again…another horrific school shooting. This time in Florida (I lived and worked there in education for 30 years). Another wringing of hands, people expressing their outrage, call for prayers and condolences but that does not help these victims and the victims at the next school shooting. And there will be another one. The US has to come to grips with the problem. Too many guns (and the wrong type of guns) in the hands of the wrong people. When will it end?

But since Columbine, the benchmark of school shootings (I was a high school principal at that time in North Carolina). What has the US done to prevent these senseless tragedies? There have been well meaning and somewhat useful lockdown drills (but that didn’t help the students and staff in Broward County last week if someone pulls the fire alarm), there has been an increase in school security personnel, see something-say something, etc. However, we still have acts of horrible and senseless acts of violence in schools and society.

Will the insanity ever stop? Probably not, as our legislators have not done what is necessary with guns in the streets, homes and schools (at least with military style rifles). Australia has not had a mass shooting for over 20 years but we average four people shot at a time (definition of a mass shooting) each day in the US. In Florida, an 18 year old can purchase a rifle-the same type that was used in Broward County and several school shootings as well as other incidents---See Las Vegas. A ten year old is allowed to shoot whatever weapon he can lift and fire at a rifle range in Florida.

There are more guns in the US then there are adults. I have read that there are more gun stores in the US that Starbucks.

Thousands of Americans are killed each year-inside and outside of schools and is there an end in sight?

Many legislators and citizens feel that the rise in shootings are caused by and take your pick: over exposure to violent video games, broken homes, lack of religion in the home, teenage music, lack of mental health facilities and workers, now the failure of police to monitor every tip they receive, etc. Australia (and many other civilized nations) has many of these same issues that we do and they are not seeing the school violence in their counties. So could the answer be the amount and types of guns in the US?

However, in my opinion, guns are not going away anytime soon. I would like to make a few suggestions and observations that might help our schools.

Arming teachers is not the answer. This is a cheap solution as teachers are already at school and we would just have to give them guns. What type of weapons would we give them? Since many shooters are going with the always popular AR 15 with great stopping power, very accurate, and with clips can spray a lot of bullets. Would we arm our teachers with 22s where they are outgunned? Should teachers be issued body armor at the beginning of the year as we do laptops? I could only imagine the number of accidents that could happen in classrooms and playgrounds.

Another suggestion I have heard is arming volunteers. As a former principal of seven secondary schools in the US I would resist this idea. I never felt comfortable allowing some volunteers to accompany students on field trips let alone handing them a weapon.

  1. I do believe that we have to take threats more seriously---follow up when we hear or read about threats. This will cost more money but hire more police to check into tips they receive.
  2. Spend more money on mental health clinics and professionals. Again, follow up with concerns that they get from family, friends and schools.
  3. Have students and adults go through more airport type security. This is time consuming and expensive, but I believe there has been less shootings at airports then at schools.
  4. Hire more police to be on campus and patrolling our communities.
  5. Research and put in place what other countries are doing with violence and guns.

These suggestions do cost money and may take away some personal freedoms but what is the life of a child worth? What amount of money would the parents of the killed students in Florida pay to get their children back?

 

Les Potter, Ed. D.

Director
American International School West
Cairo, Egypt