The Challenges of Stemming School Violence (cont.)

After Newtown, parents of slain elementary students unsuccessfully lobbied for federal gun control, but Parkland could become a turning point. This time, high school students who were in the line of fire have become activists lobbying for changes. Corporations are taking notice. In the absence of a federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, Dick’s Sporting Goods said it will no longer sell assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, and will stop selling firearms to anyone under 21. Walmart will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21.

These retailers’ measures are not a panacea, but they are a start. Leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate, along with President Trump are listening, but have balked on a federal assault weapons ban and expanded background checks. Many believe elected officials should remember that these students – and others staging walkouts nationally at public high schools – are near voting age.

Overall, boards of education try to be proactive in preventing violence. Districts institute safety measures such as curriculum, behavior modification, counseling, mentoring, and social emotional learning (SEL) training methods to address violent behavioral issues. Proactive school districts employ armed school resource officers and teach conflict resolution, peer respect and acceptance. However, districts that cite barriers to address discipline issues need to be addressed before problems escalate.

The cure for school-related gun violence need not involve arming every teacher and restricting military style firearms completely. However, it’s time to reexamine gun laws state by state. Additionally, it’s time to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence as a public health issue, which is part of the many ways the country can begin to address the symptoms.