Opinion

EDITORIAL: The best way to protect children in FW schools

More than two months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the debate lingers over the best way to protect students from danger.

In December, a gunman murdered 26 people at Sandy Hook, including 20 children, before taking his own life. This devastating crime propelled the nation toward a divisive look at gun control - and specifically, guns in schools.

In Federal Way, Superintendent Rob Neu vetoed the notion of arming teachers and principals. Neu promised to strengthen the district’s relationship with Federal Way police, who already have a presence in the schools. Some citizens have suggested that teams of armed volunteers should patrol the city’s schools.

The sobering reality is that a gunman intent on harming children will find a way to succeed. Furthermore, the school district and police are serious about safety. The last thing anyone wants is a Sandy Hook shooting in Federal Way.

The notion of armed volunteers at schools, however, presents too many liabilities for all involved. Allowing civilians with weapons to patrol school grounds is enough to scare some families right out of the district.

The school district and law enforcement professionals have a duty to protect students and ensure their safety. In addition to officers at the city’s high schools, the future Federal Way High School proposal takes security into account by reducing the number of entrances and exits. Likewise, the recent voter-approved levy will help pay for more security cameras at district schools.

Statistics show schools are still one of the safest places for our children. The Center for Disease Control reports that less than 1 percent of homicides among school-age children occur on school property or between home and school.

For now, the solution to safer schools comes down to volunteers who forgo guns in favor of cellphones and walkie-talkies. There are plenty of opportunities for citizens to donate their time and raise the quality of life for Federal Way’s children. Programs such as Watch DOGS (Dads Of Great Students) and Communities In Schools, for example, match students with adults whose mere presence can make a lasting positive impact.

The key point is the willingness to volunteer. That mindset has the power to create a stronger learning environment in Federal Way schools.

All guns aside, if citizens are serious about volunteering, the schools will gladly find a place for them to help. As the schools and police iron out the details of protecting students, the presence of more adults on school campuses will foster a greater sense of safety.

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Contact The Mirror's editorial board: editorialboard@federalwaymirror.com

 

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