By Kaitlyn Benacquisto
Parents, teachers, and kids alike are having serious discussions in light of the Florida school shooting that killed fourteen students and three faculty members. San Marcos CISD Trustee, Anne Halsey, talked about her concerns and solutions. Her opinions and views do not reflect those of SMCISD.
Aside from being a member of the school board, Halsey is also a mother of three herself. She worries sending her kids to school some mornings, a sentiment that has been reflected by many parents as gun violence in schools continues.
Halsey tweeted after the Florida shooting regarding the positions that teachers are being put in as gun violence continues in schools.
“Two of my friends, a wife and husband, both teachers, sat down this week to ‘try to have a practical conversation about whether it is more important to die protecting our students or to live to raise our daughters,’” said Halsey. “These are decisions that teachers are forced to make in America.”
Halsey admits she does not have all the answers, but suggests a simple place to start is bystander intervention training. It brings people together and educates them on strategies to reduce violence.
“In essence, it says that reducing violence, whether it’s date rape, child abuse, domestic assault, or even road rage, at all levels of society is where we start and how we begin to prevent these atrocities from happening. It’s a community responsibility,” says Halsey.
While explaining this method, she uses how she talks to her children as an example. If someone is getting bullied, it is their duty to stand up to the bully and help protect the child, friends or not. Bystander intervention training would mean that there is no more “minding your own business.” It is a community effort to prevent violence, hoping to stop it before it gets to the point of school shootings, and incidents of the same caliber.
Another solution, offered by President Trump, amongst other politicians, have suggested that we arm our teachers.
“I said…to look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience-only the best,” said Trump in a tweet. “20 percent of teachers, a lot, would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions.”
The President has also expressed his support for pushing more comprehensive background and mental health checks in order to be able to purchase a gun.
Halsey has a different opinion on guns in school. She says that schools, at least those in SMCISD, are as protected and safe as they can possibly be.
“I really feel like guns are antithetical to the learning process, and that in an educational environment they should be unnecessary,” said Halsey. “The whole idea of education is to teach us to reason, to think critically, to master a subject and to resolve our disputes peacefully, through argumentation and debate, not through intimidation or force of threat.”
Halsey thinks that if schools can find their way back to their core purpose, then violence and mental illness may be combated in the process.
Better mental health facilities in schools are a concern expressed by the President, NRA, and teachers, including Halsey herself. However, according to a study in the journal World Psychiatry, it appears that mental health may not be the underlying cause of gun violence in schools. The study states that major determinants of violence often lay in socio-economic and demographic factors, usually being young, male, and of a lower socio-economic status.
Whether it is an issue of gun restriction, mental health, or something yet to be addressed, as more and more news is littered with headlines of gun violence and threats in schools, activists are demanding something be done about it. If this is an issue you care about, start by contacting your local government officials, contacting the NRA to let them know your view on the topic, and educating yourself and those around you on the facts.
Featured Image by Melissa Monrroy.