Parents Concerned About School Safety Weigh Various Options
There are plenty of signs that parents are fearful about violence in our society and how it will impact their children—in school, and beyond.
Highest profile among them are the parents of three children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14. Today, these grieving parents called for better enforcement of gun laws at a legislative hearing in their state. The Associated Press reports that it was the "second of four public hearings held by the Connecticut General Assembly's task force on gun violence and school safety, which was created to develop legislative proposals in response to the Sandy Hook shooting. The subcommittees have until Feb. 15 to forward their recommendations to legislative leaders."
Other evidence that parents are on edge:
- A recent nationwide survey finds that 75 percent of parents say shielding children from violence is difficult. Contributing to America's "culture of violence," they say, are easy access to guns (75 percent) and media violence (77 percent), according to the study, which was commissioned by Common Sense Media and the Center for American Progress, and released earlier this month.
- A Florida mother contributed $11,000 for private security at her child's elementary school. CNN reports that this amount "will help pay for a 'rotation of deputies' to patrol the perimeter and hallways of the elementary school through the end of the school year."
- The New York Times' Motherlode blogger wonders how to politely find out whether the homes her children are about to visit have guns inside. Last year, researchers found 36 percent of families in North Carolina kept a loaded gun in their home and 57 percent said they locked guns in a place where children could not get access to them. This was from a study of 286 parents visiting an emergency room in North Carolina.
As U.S. lawmakers eye policy changes in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, proposals include arming adults in and around schools, a suggestion that Education Week's Nirvi Shah points out has raised several concerns.
In Missouri, a state lawmaker, Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, introduced a bill on Jan. 23 that would require parents to register their gun ownership with their children's schools, and to prevent their children from illegally owning guns. Parents would be subject to fines for failure to report their guns, and for failure to secure them properly.
The National PTA last week commended members of Congress for a proposed ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Earlier, the organization praised the Obama administration's gun violence prevention agenda—except for the proposal to increase the school resource officer program, which conflicts with the PTA position that schools should be gun-free.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that gun manufacturers are increasingly marketing their products—including assault weapons—to children. In one ad, a 15-year-old girl is depicted holding a semi-automatic weapon.
What do you think parents should be doing to keep their children safe at schools, as the debate over violence prevention and gun policy rages on?