The idea of arming school officials has surfaced alongside more predictable conversations about gun control in the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. Today, the nation's school principals responded: Please do not give us guns.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals released a firm statement this afternoon, saying that increasing the number of guns in schools would not reduce the likelihood of tragedies like last Friday's.
From the statement:
A principal's first responsibility is to foster a safe, orderly, warm, and inviting environment. To be effective, schools must be perceived as safe havens where students want to be. The presence of armed school officials on campus conveys the opposite message to students and to the local community. Is the school really safe, a parent might wonder, if the principal feels that he or she needs to carry a firearm? Any impression that obstructs a trusting relationship in school compromises school safety instead of enhancing it.
That compromise would perhaps be necessary if arming teachers and principals actually made schools more secure. We believe, however, that such policies will not produce the intended effect—and they might do more harm than good. ... It is not reasonable to expect that a school official could intervene in a deadly force incident, even with a modicum of training, quickly and safely enough to save lives.
The principals' associations call for improving school culture, community engagement, mental health services, violence prevention programs, collaboration between governmental agencies, funding for school resource officers—but not for more weapons in schools.
Here are relevant findings from a Secret Service report on school violence.
The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers released a statement on Dec. 20 saying that they, too, do not believe that arming educators will keep schools safe.
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