Problem: People Need a Stronger Solution to Keep Kids Safe From Violence in Schools
It is no secret that parents and their children are worried about how safe it is to attend schools these days. The December 14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School leading to the death of almost 30 people, most of them elementary students, has brought the issue of school safety to national attention (“ Timeline”). A timeline of school shootings by CNN illustrates the increasing number of this type of crime occurring at all levels of education in America.
However, terrible as these events are, they are not the only dangers students encounter each day in school. Schools can attract many other safety or criminal problems such as bullying, drugs, contraband like knives, child sexual predators, lax entrance and exit procedures allowing students to slip out of school, cheating via cell phone or other electronic devices, and so forth. The daily danger of physically aggressive bullies, temptations to try drugs, of child predators to enter schools, and more is much more likely to occur than a school shooting.
A national conversation is occurring about school safety; while some of it rightfully focuses on tragedies such as Newtown, people should also consider the many other safety issues students encounter daily and what solutions can be used to help solve all of the problems. Schools already use many safety methods such as controlled access, metal detectors, and sweeps to look for contraband, but it appears that more needs to be done to insure safety (“ Fast Facts).
Thesis Statement: Armed guards, staff, and/or police help deter problems and crimes before they begin, protect staff and students when problems occur, helps schools and students succeed in their academic mission by allowing students and staff the safety they deserve, and is an overall good solution for a community in both safety and economics.
Solution: Armed Guards Can Provide School and Community Safety
Armed guards or police in schools can assist in providing the safety for schools that the community desires. The reasons this would work is because armed guards would work as a deterrent not only for the tragic crimes such as at Newtown that the media is focusing upon now, but also because it would help protect students, staff, and community against the other problems and crimes that can occur in schools such as bullying, drugs, and more.
Armed guards can include hired guards or staff members trained to protect the people at school (Finn, para. 3). Another solution is one such as New York’s Police Athletic League (PAL), which is designed so “ members of the law enforcement community would initiate prevention services to later avoid harsher intervention measures” (“ About Us,” para. 1).
Armed guards, staff, and/or police help deter problems and crimes before they begin, protect staff and students when problems occur, helps schools and students succeed in their academic mission by allowing students and staff the safety they deserve, and is an overall good solution for a community in both safety and economics.
Justification: Armed Guards are Needed in Schools
1. Armed guards deter problems before they begin.
Prevention is the most important part of having armed guards in schools. Armed guards help to deter school safety problems before they begin. Not only will the presence of armed guards cause students who are considering bringing weapons to school to hurt others to think again, but it will also help stop a plethora of other problems from even starting. For example, a convicted sexual predator may decide not to act if he knows that there are armed guards who will recognize arrest him if he steps foot on school property. Students will be less likely to bring contraband such as drugs, gang symbols, and other items into school. Bullies will be less likely to commit physical assaults. Students will be less likely to skip classes if there are armed guards patrolling the school’s entries and exits. Prevention of problems is far preferable than having to clean up the messy aftermath . Programs like PAL in as after-school programs, food service, summer camps, and more benefits a community by preventing problems before they begin. PAL’s RISE program helps juvenile offenders get the help they need “ to ensure that each [delinquent youth] secures employment and/or returns to school, thus reducing the likelihood of recidivism (“ RISE,” para. 2).
2. Armed guards can protect students and staff when problems occur.
When problems occur in schools, if armed guards are present, there are people trained to deal with the situation immediately available and ready to act. In a situation such as a school shooting, having armed guards to lead staff and students through the situation can help prevent or at least lower the number of casualties. While most people may imagine an armed guard is only there to take down a school shooter, there is much more an armed guard is trained to do. An armed guard can offer the leadership and command through a situation to tell staff and students what to do so that casualties are minimized. An armed guard is trained to notice suspicious activity and how to deal with it appropriately; even though this most times this will not involve using a gun, the option is there if it should become necessary.
3. Armed guards help schools and students succeed in their academic mission.
Students and staff in schools with armed guards may feel an overall improved sense of safety because not only are the guards there to take care of problems if they occur, but also many of the more typical safety problems such as drugs and bullying are prevented. This means that staff and students can focus on academics, learning, education, and other aspects of schools such as team sports and other after-school activities that promote the well-being of students. As writer Phil Gwinn says, “ If we do not object to protection for our presidents’ kids [having armed guards] the question becomes why we would object to arms in the school for the more plebian children” (para. 6). Whether students come from modest or wealthy backgrounds, every child deserves to be safe in school and to have the chance to get the best educational experience possible. With the number of safety issues in schools today, this should include armed guards.
4. Armed guards in schools is an overall good solution for a community in both safety and economics.
The solution of having armed guards in schools is beneficial to communities in short and long term ways. It helps deal with immediate situations of safety and crime, as well as helps to raise a generation of people attuned to safety issues. Hiring armed guards to work in schools is job-creation, which is good for a community as well. Over time, less crime can pay off so that communities can spend less on police forces and more on cultural and other enrichment. As part of this solution, a police sub-station can be incorporated within a school. Though this would be an extra expense for the school that would need to provide a desk, phone, and Internet connection for police officers stationed at the school, overall the benefit to the community would pay off. This is because there would be immediate attention available in the face of problems for one of the community’s most vulnerable populations, its children. Additionally, the availability of police in different schools throughout the community mean that there can be a better police response in those neighborhoods throughout the town or city.
Opposing Points of View: Why Armed Guards Should Not Be in Schools
At the American Institutes for Research, director of human and social development program David Osher believes that armed guards in schools will cause tragic mishaps. He says, that the theory is if there is a problem, a guard will “ shoot him down and everything will be fine . . . In reality, the problem is you might shoot someone who isn’t in fact breaking in or you might shoot somebody . . . perceived by [a guard] as being threatening” (Motoko paras. 7-8).
Conclusion- Armed Guards Promote Safety in Schools and Communities
Though there are several justified arguments against the idea of having armed guards in schools such as the idea that innocent bystanders could be shot, the overall benefit of having armed guards in schools outweighs the low possibility of such tragedy. There is a necessity to not only follow the logical solution of increasing safety in schools, but also to address the emotional needs and concerns of parents, students and staff. Providing armed guards in schools offers parents, students, and staff the emotional security of having that extra protection available and knowing the school is able to handle any problem to the best of its abilities. People that know they have done their best are better able to deal with problem situations and emotionally process tragedies. It is important to note that not only can tragedies like school shootings be either prevented or the casualties of these events minimized, but also that a host of other safety issues such as drug or gang issues can also be deterred.
About Us. Police Athletic League, n. d. Accessed 29 Apr. 2013. Web.
Fast Facts: School Safety and Security Measures. National Center for Education Statistics, 2012. Web.
Gwinn, Phil. A Simple Reason We Should Embrace Armed Guards in Schools. Policymic, Dec. 2013. Web.
Finn, Peter. NRA-Commissioned Study Supports Having Armed Guards in Schools. The Washington Post, 13 Apr. 2013. Web.
Motoko, Rich. N. R. A. Call to Guard Schools Is Criticized as Too Simplistic. The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2012. Print.
RISE. Police Athletic League, n. d. Accessed 29 Apr. 2013. Web. < http://www. palnyc. org/800-PAL-4KIDS/Program. aspx? id= 28>
Timeline: School violence in the U. S. CNN, 14 Dec. 2012. Web.