April 19, 2018
Politics & Opinion
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School Safety

Derek Fink
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March 20, 2018

Last month, our country was rocked with yet another horrible act of violence at a school. Stoneman Douglas High School was the scene of a mass shooting that took the lives of 17 innocent people. As we look back at this tragedy, we must answer the questions “how did this happen?” and “how can we prevent something like this from happening in our schools?” There is nothing more important for our leadership to do than keeping our children safe in their schools. Whether it’s at the state, county or local level, everyone should look to increase school safety and preparedness for situations that could arise.

In the wake of this horrible tragedy in Florida, Governor Hogan has taken multiple steps to try to boost the security and preparedness of the schools and schools systems throughout Maryland. The state will add $125 million to enhance school safety procedures throughout schools in Maryland. This money is to be used to accelerate and enhance improvements such as securing doors and windows, and adding metal detectors, security cameras and panic buttons. He has also allocated $2.5 million for Maryland Center for School Safety Operations and a $2.5 in grant funding for school safety assessments. The additional $2.5 million in operating funds will allow them to hire analysts and social media trackers and allocate personnel and resources in more regions of the state. The center will also assist schools in conducting safety assessments and implementing new safety standards. The governor and state legislators agree that no student should feel unsafe in his or her school.

The county executive and county school officials have also announced new school safety initiatives. The county executive and superintendent of schools are proposing $14.8 million that would add 20 additional school resource officers, more than 1,500 cameras in schools, lock upgrades for 4,000 doors in county schools, double-door systems at all high schools and protective tactical equipment for every school. Dr. Arlotto has also announced that the school system will reinstitute its School Safety and Security Council. The council is composed of school, county, law enforcement and community officials, as well as parents and students, and makes recommendations on school safety measures.

Along with our children being physically safe in our schools, we should also be mindful of them being emotionally safe. Along with some mothers of children who have been bullied in the past, a young man came to the county council meeting in early March and told the council about his experience of being bullied in school. His message really hit home with the council, and we are looking into ways in which we can support the school system’s efforts to combat bullying in county schools. Bullying has been an issue in schools for as long as I can remember, but it seems to be getting worse as the years go by. It is our responsibility as parents and adults to teach our kids that it is never right to bully another person. Please sit down and talk to your children about bullying and the damage it can do to people and the best ways to deal with bullying if they are being bullied themselves.

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