Pennsylvania lawmakers proposed a new law this month that would permit teachers and school staff to carry guns on school property. Republican Senator Don White of Indiana County backed this controversial pitch in response to an estimated 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012. This staggering statistic became all too real in April, when Murrysville, PA’s Franklin Regional Senior High School faced school violence first hand. While no guns were involved, a 16-year-old stabbed and injured twenty innocent victims. Regardless of the types of weapons involved or injuries that occur, school violence must be stopped.
Parents and members of the community are divided on how to handle improving school safety. Is “fighting violence with violence” the only way to stop this? Or should schools continue focusing on preventative measures by implementing increased security and precautionary measures such as metal detectors?
Personal Injury and School Campuses
Every parent wants to believe that when they drop their child off at school, they are safe from the threats of the outside world. While more often than not their children remain safe in the care of their teachers in the classroom, it is every parent’s fear that their child will be harmed. Playground accidents, after school sport injuries, bumps and bruises, chemistry lab accidents, and bullying worries that once plagued parents are now secondary to the possibility of a school shooter. As the Associated Press tragically put it: “‘Lockdown’ is now part of the school vocabulary.”
Schools across the country are being forced to take a hard look at public school children’s safety after what can only be described as an epidemic of school violence erupted. It is difficult to place blame on a specific entity or person in these situations. Historically, the predominantly male shooters were troubled with mental disorders and people blamed school counselors. Inadequate teacher training may place responsibility on the school. Failure to implement procedures to protect students against threats may be placed on an entire school district. Communities even point fingers at parents for not noticing the “warning signs” with their disturbed children or allowing youth unrestrained access to guns.
Fault is a legal concept determined by the trier of fact, a judge or jury. Though lawsuits keep coming out of the woodwork from these tragedies, the violence continues to occur. Regardless of whether you are a proponent of improved mental health services, stricter gun control laws, or escalated safety in schools—all of us can agree that whatever is going on currently simply is not working.
Solutions to School Campus Violence
The primary response to school violence thus far has been to put in place preventative measures. Many public school districts now require visible ID badges on students, dress codes, and a trip through a metal detector before entering school property. Districts boast about their new security cameras, surveillance systems, and improved security measures; but is this really a deterrent? With most shooters ending their life immediately, surveillance cameras are unlikely to be a deterrent. Even adding security guards are unlikely to be a sufficient deterrent—schools are big and guards can only be in so many places at one time. On this rationale, the problem lies within the shooter himself and arguably his access to guns, not the measures taken to prevent violence at school.
On the other hand, will arming teachers solve the problem? While the Pennsylvania bill would require trainings and certifications, there is a concern as to the mental component of using deadly force against another, particularly against youth. Teachers certainly would not be required to use the weapon and all of this presupposes that teachers actually want to be able to carry weapons on campus. The Advisory Committee on Violence Prevention formed by the Senate opposes anyone other than security personnel from carrying weapons on campus. Other states taking polls on the matter also found that teachers overwhelmingly oppose the idea as well. If the teachers themselves do not wish to carry guns, the bill, if passed, is unlikely to have any significance in Pennsylvania schools.
What if my Child Was Injured at School?
If you or someone you know has been affected by a school-related injury, you need someone to look out for you while you focus on your family. Solnick & Associates LLC’s personal injury attorneys have first hand experience in dealing with these types of cases. Whether the accident occurred in the classroom or on the playground, or due to teacher’s negligence or inadequate supervision, we are prepared to ensure that your child is compensated for his injuries to the full extent the law allows. Contact our Philadelphia-based office today.