Editorial: Another safety call to everyone

Apr. 10, 2014 @ 11:32 PM

Few had heard of Murrysville, Pa., until this week. Newtown, Conn., another locale we know for unfortunate reasons, was brought back into our conscious.

So was school safety.

What we’ve been reminded of is quite sobering, but nonetheless very important to keep in mind. Safety in our schools must be a priority, and our field of vision cannot be limited to either side of the entrance doors or any demographic on school grounds.

The campus as well as the interior of a school are components. Administrators, teachers and students are all in play as well.

Among the stories heard this week in Vance County were of volunteers who spend hundreds upon hundreds of hours helping our various schools. Within a familiar refrain were examples of surveillance, just walking the halls and grounds and keeping an eye out for the unusual.

Attentive school systems nationwide regularly update plans for emergencies. Plans are made for situations involving hostility or catastrophic events, like tornadoes and fires.

Recognition and awareness of potential mental health illness has grown in recent years, particularly after the December 2012 tragedy in Connecticut.

Several programs are already in place at schools in the Tri-County. They range from identifying children who may disappear, even if not on school grounds when it happens, to lockdown drills and extra sets of eyes on campus.

In February 2013, Vance County Schools brought together several students to share feelings on school safety. The event had been planned two months earlier following a drive-by shooting that left a Henderson teenager dead.

An auditorium was packed with about 600 people. Safety, in school and out, was questioned.

“How many people have to die?” asked an eighth-grader.

“Young people believe guns are the answer to everything,” said a high school student.

The event was to launch a series of forums on school and student concerns. Negative, misdirected information on the purpose of that February night created a distraction.

But listening to our young people was a good idea. They need our support. We need their frank assessment of how adults are doing keeping their schools safe.

And when the truth hurts, we should recognize the time to get it fixed is immediate, before one of them becomes the next victim.