In the April edition of the Bruin, we took an in-depth look at gun and safety at Wadsworth High School. We surveyed the students on their feelings towards guns, interviewed local officials, debated what should be done next and sat down with the ALICE Training Institute to talk about the importance of schools having an action plan for when the worst happens.
Our in-depth look at guns and safety at Wadsworth
BY OLIVIA PORPORA & ADAM DARWICH
The apprehension that exists surrounding the issues that plague the students in America needs to stop. In this issue, the Bruin tackles not only the issue of gun rights but also, school safety and uses these results from a student survey to catch an impulse of what students in our school sense, feel, and believe about their school safety.
The ignition of the powder keg that is the gun rights debate can be directly associated with the recent rise of school shootings. Though the problem seems to be expanding every year, this issue is not new. Wadsworth City Schools has been taking steps for the past decade and a half to ensure students’ safety from themselves and potentially violent outsiders.
Unfortunately, this does not seem to inspire confidence to the student-body as approximately 32% of Wadsworth High School students reported that they did not feel safe at school. While this may not all be entirely based around gun violence, it is no doubt that the majority is due to the recent sensationalizing of school massacres.
School shootings and school safety have been tied to the gun debate since the birth of the new century. However, the debate needs to be refocused. The issue is not with guns or our ability to wield them. It is the ability to gain them and use them in public areas even with a history of either violence or mental illness.
It is interesting to notice that 90% of students stated that weapons should be allowed to the public, as stated in the Second Amendment, yet almost all students agreed that some form of regulation is needed. In fact, over 60% of students reported that they would like to see extensive background checks to be done by the FBI for all gun purchases and that any new gun owner would be required to take a class centered around how to handle, operate and store a weapon.
It is clear that the student-body at Wadsworth High School, while placing an emphasis on the Second Amendment, see their safety as more important than the ability to purchase a gun and take it home the same day.
According to the survey results, 54% of students live in a household with firearms. This is startling thought to comprehend when further survey results implicate that only 33% of students have been properly trained to operate it. This builds upon the consensus among Wadsworth High School students who call for stricter regulations in the purchasing of firearms.
School massacres are not caused by a single issue. They are an accumulation of issues consisting of mental health illness, gun regulations and insufficient safety measures within schools. Students around the nation have united to shed light on this problem. This survey and in-depth reporting, with interviews of growing civilian response training companies, illuminates Wadsworth High School’s student-body’s thoughts on the growing debates that create tension within our nation.
Staff Editorial: Guns aren’t the only issue, there are other problems to be solved.
Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Jackson Middle School.
These names echo through news, communities, and our own heads as the school safety debate rages on throughout the U.S.. As the names continue to hit close to home for high school students, including Jackson Middle School here in our own state, the concerns only get larger with time.
In this issue of The Bruin, we opened up an in-depth investigation to see what the debate really is about.
We found that guns are an issue in today’s society, but that is not the only problem at hand. School safety boils down to a point of whether or not kids feel safe in schools, how equipped the schools are to protect kids, and whether or not we can fix the issue.
Our hope with this issue is to start a conversation. We want to inform an audience of both sides on this debate in order to make an informed decision on personal stances and how to use one’s own voice in order to continue to educate and inform others.
Talking with our leaders is important, which is why we have reached out to people like Senator Sherrod Brown, Superintendent Andrew Hill, and Police Chief Randy Reinke for this issue. Whether today’s policy makers simply open debate on this topic or decide to pass laws and regulations, it will make progress towards a better future for students.
Mental health is another area that needs to be more heavily explored.
Students are not always educated on mental health and how to deal with or solve the problem. We, as a nation, need to dive further into how to solve the problem, educate students, and get them the help one might need.
Mental health is a serious issue and it is time the U.S. looks into an issue that plagues many of its citizens.
School safety also brings into question if school buildings themselves are safe enough to protect students. Some feel as though arming teachers is the right idea. Others hope to see metal detectors and more security personnel. Either way, people are asking for change. Schools should have just as much conversation as lawmakers on the best way to maintain a safe and healthy environment for students.
Conversation is important. It begins debate, which eventually makes change. School safety and gun control are nationwide issues that grow bigger everyday.
Hopefully, the in-depth opened by our reporters will help to educate students and the community on how to best formulate your opinion.
Continue to create debate and speak out for what you believe in. Change is never achieved unless debate begins.
ALICE Training Institute advocates preparedness and strategy over fear
BY COLIN WRIGHT & MARRAYA YOUNGBLOOD
Americans are no strangers to headlines reporting on mass shooting events. It seems that anywhere could be a target for a madman with a gun — churches, schools, malls, movie theaters — the list goes on. While mass shootings are not necessarily occurring more frequently, the lethality of these incidents continues to rise.
To better prepare staff and students for an emergency like this, Wadsworth City Schools first contracted the ALICE Training Institute in 2013.
ALICE seeks to arm people of all ages with knowledge that may save their lives in the event of an active shooter.
Lisa and Greg Crane co-founded the ALICE Training Institute after the tragic events of the 1999 Columbine shooting. At the time of the shooting, Greg was a SWAT officer in the Dallas area, while Lisa worked as a school principal.
“Greg built the program based on what he knew as a SWAT officer, using techniques that worked for the SWAT team. They often utilize bright lights and loud sounds. He asked me how this could be replicated in a school, and I asked him if he had ever seen an out of control kindergarten class — chaotic, loud, and full of movement,” said Lisa Crane. “Ultimately, kids are doing all they can to evacuate or even defend themselves if they must. We see this as a much better approach than having them sit quietly in a corner.”
ALICE training abandons the traditional “shelter-in-place” lockdown strategy used by schools. ALICE is an acronym, standing for ‘Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.’
During the hands-on training process, groups are placed into simulated active shooting events. They try each lockdown strategy: traditional shelter-in-place, barricade, counter and evacuation. By the end of training, individuals have a strong understanding of each situation and will be able to appropriately respond to any situation they may be faced with.
ALICE training has reached all 50 states. Over one million individuals have been trained, including more than 4,200 K-12 school districts — Wadsworth included.
“Our main mission statement used to be ‘to save lives.’ Because we’ve had successes, it’s now ‘to save more lives.’ That’s something we make clear to everyone who works here,” said Crane. “I don’t care if your job is answering the phone — you’re contributing to that mission of saving more lives.”
One of the main principles of ALICE training is putting the individual’s safety in their own hands. Rather than expecting a teacher to lead students to safety, students should take charge and do what they see is right.
“Don’t rely on a teacher to be the leader. They might lock up and fail to handle the situation. We’ve seen that teachers are usually the first one targeted, and if they’re the keeper of all knowledge and they’re down, what do you guys do? That’s why you need to know what to do. That’s why we advocate for middle schoolers and high schoolers knowing what they need to know with or without an adult,” said Crane.
The ALICE Training Institute is opposed to the idea of arming teachers. A recent blog post titled “Why Police Officers should be the Only Armed Personnel on Campus” argues that the average citizen simply does not have the level of experience or training to appropriately confront an aggressor.
According to the US Department of Justice, the annual percentage of accuracy in deadly force encounters is 30% — and that is with trained officers. In a chaotic classroom setting with an inexperienced teacher pulling the trigger, where are the missed shots going?
“That’s not what [teachers] went into teaching for. It’s denying a lot of facts that we know about law enforcement,” says Crane.
Students at Wadsworth High School echo the sentiment held by the ALICE Training Institute. The survey conducted by the Bruin found that only 25% of students felt that teachers should be armed.
The ALICE Training Institute works with all ages. A book written by Julia Cook in coordination with ALICE titled “I’m Not Scared… I’m Prepared!” was published following the Sandy Hook massacre.
The book is designed to help younger children understand the concepts of ALICE and apply them if they are ever faced with a life-threatening situation. They use a wolf in the role of the intruder to parallel how scary an intruder can be.
ALICE continues to grow and develop their strategy to ultimately work on their mission of “saving more lives.” With a vision of growth and development of educational programs, the ALICE Training Institute is dedicated to arming people with crucial knowledge.
‘See something, say something,’ not enough
OPINION BY TJ LOCKWOOD
After the horrific terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001, the country as a whole quickly adopted the saying of ‘if you see something, say something.’ This saying has been carried all the way to apply to the current acts of violence in schools all across the nation.
Wadsworth City Schools, like many other schools, take many different and creative safety precautions when dealing with dangers in school. These precautions include resource policemen stationed at each school, limited entrances to the schools and full time counselors in schools among other measures.
The school district also employs the protocol established by ALICE, which trains administrations and staff to provide information to students and teachers and have them make decisions that immediately affects their safety in the event of a school shooting or some other violent action on school grounds.
“I feel like we have a very safe environment for our students… we work really hard to put in procedures and safety measures in place to make everyone feel safe and secure,” said Wadsworth City Schools Superintendent, Andrew Hill.
The basis of all of these precautions lies within the “see something, say something” mantra that has been a mainstay in safety conversations for almost the entirety of the 21st century.
“Our best mechanism for school safety is if you, as students, see something or hear something, to say something to an adult,” said Hill.
While collectively, these measures have worked together to make Wadsworth City Schools, and schools around the nation, safer, an issue such as this demands a better solution.
As seen through the popular media outlets, gun violence in schools has increased dramatically every year throughout America for the past decade. According to CNN World News, through the first 12 weeks of 2018, there have been 17 school shootings in the United States where someone was either hurt or killed. At that rate, the previous years’ record high number of 65 would be blown out of the water.
The schools that are the sad and unfortunate victim to these actions of violence take many of the same precautions that Wadsworth City Schools takes. The statistics tell a story, one that paints the current safety measures as inadequate and almost nonexistent. However, the issue is multifaceted, so must its solution be.
The answer in solving gun violence in schools lies not in one simple solution, but rather a multitude of things that work together, hand-in-hand, to produce safe and calm environments for children to play, learn and ultimately grow in.
“There are so many guns in the country that they are easily available to anyone who is motivated to get one whether it be legally or illegally,” said Wadsworth Chief of Police, Randy Reinke.
One of the facets of the issue of gun violence is that a person who is serious about making an act of terror will always be able to find a way to reach the weapons or items he or she requires to complete this brutal action. As individuals, who wish to stop this, our best chance lies in making it difficult for that individual to reach his/her goal target.
The simplest solution to this also happens to render the best result. Implementing and using metal detectors at entrances in Wadsworth Schools would ensure students, staff and administrators of their safety. Weapons or anything else that could be used as a weapon, in this day and age are almost always made of metal, would be scanned and that individual would then be detained and questioned.
In the use of the detectors, the school would have to check all students, teachers, people and bags that enter the school building. This would prevent the easy access of weapons into schools that currently exists. While this does present some downfalls, the sacrifices of traffic entering the buildings is quite worth our safety and the safety of our schools.