School shootings and violence have been growing over the past two decades. Teachers, students, and parents face the grim reality of not knowing what measures to take or whom to turn to for help. Even worse, the percentage of gunfire incidents in the States skyrocketed over the past year.
In 2021-2022 only, events involving guns quadrupled compared to 2013. Exactly 193 incidents happened in preschools and K–12 schools last year. Unfortunately, gun violence slowly becomes an epidemic in US schools and households. Mass and unintentional shootings, homicides, and suicides regularly hit the headlines without any signs of stopping.
What can we, as individuals, do to prevent the causes of gunfire incidents? What can the state do to address the issue at its root and spare millions of kids from suffering long-term consequences? Can society prevent school shootings and reinstate gun safety? And what about schools and their anti-violence and security policies?
Above all, society needs meaningful action that promotes school safety and integrity. Urgent measures include passing laws to restrict weapon use and offering support to children with mental disorders. Moreover, national leaders must facilitate the tools schools need to prevent gun violence on their premises.
This article reveals facts that focus on the most-effective approaches to keep guns further from children’s hands and heads. It also highlights the importance of fostering secure and reliable school environments, crisis intervention programs, and trauma-targeted counseling.
Encourage Help for Children with Mental Health Issues
Social workers and psychologists that work with kids witness a dramatic increase in the number of children and teenagers with mental problems. Therefore, the services intended to assist them in overcoming personal fights should get public recognition. They must become more visible and accessible to the youth.
The primary aim of mental help providers is to educate people on childhood mental illnesses. Subduing and stigmatizing these issues will only make the problem worse. It will take a student that can’t deal with the pressure himself a few moments to explode. The more openly the public discusses and is aware of the matter, the easier we can overcome it.
Many parents and teachers are undereducated on mental health conditions. As a result, they fail to identify mental illness signs, thus delaying proper access to treatment. One approach for educators is to assign more gun violence essays and topics to make students aware of the problem. Actualizing current events is not always unfavorable; in most cases, it can help kids reflect and change their mindset from an early age.
Even when children get diagnosed, many adults don’t know how to interact with kids undergoing treatment. Well-targeted training will help parents and educators shield kids and alleviate their problems instead of exacerbating them. Therefore, social workers must educate parents on proper childrearing to lower exposure to domestic violence and traumas.
Finally, children at risk of developing a mental illness must also get support. By reducing first-hand impact, teenagers will become more resilient to school violence. This way, society can protect kids exposed to traumatic domestic incidents, not letting them develop mental health conditions.
Sensible Gun Laws: Reduced Access to Dangerous Weapons
So far, 23 states and DC have introduced a law on secure storage of guns. Such regulations save lives because they require households to lock firearms and ammunition. Other sensible gun laws include banning magazines with large capacities and bump stocks, universal background inspections, and reinstituting assault weapons. The Government should also insist on mandatory training and licensing for owners.
Moreover, risky ideas, like arming educators, should remain out of the debate frame. Teachers aren’t and cannot be specially trained officers that enforce the law under coercion and extreme confusion. Quite the contrary, an armed educator will further aggravate a destabilized situation.
Schools can hire security personnel to tackle dangerous situations, but these people must undergo a strict selection process and play a limited role only. Security staff must not have the power to inflict harm on students based on race, color, or ethnicity.
Equality Leads To Stability
Unfortunately, not all students get equal treatment at school. The most common reasons include race, socio-economic status, athletic ability, social stigmas, and academic performance. One way to tackle inequality is through teachers. They must stop favoring specific students and consequently reduce resentment among peers. This practice will, in turn, lead to fewer incidents.
Forgoing bias, racism, prejudice, and judgment is critical for the mental status of children. Instead, teachers should encourage differences and innovation and praise behaviors that promote mutual respect. Besides school administrators, educators should reinforce pro-social activities and teach conflict-resolution skills.
Advocate for More Counseling at Schools
Typically, one school counselor has to work with about 450 students in the United States. This figure is overwhelming for social workers and impossible to handle. Considering that each child has different needs and issues to address, the counselor’s contribution seems trivial.
Enhancing access to guidance counselors will lower the risk of violent attacks and school shootings. Therefore, authorities must ensure staff shortages are properly addressed. Providing family counseling will further ease the burden of kids with problematic behavior.
Guns Come from Family or Friends
Research has excluded the possibility of kids buying the weapons themselves as irrational. An average school-age shooter gets his weapons from home. The primary source for obtaining guns is family, relatives, and friends. And that’s where all issues root from and build on as the child progresses towards high school.
The US Secret Service has found that almost three-quarters of school shooters “borrowed” the firearm from home. In most of the shootings, the weapon was accessible and stored insecurely. Hence, authorities should focus on adopting new laws on obligatory safe storage. Similarly, schools can issue notices about the importance of keeping guns beyond the reach of children.
Many American children have been victims of gun violence in schools. Just witnessing such as event is horrifying enough for a child to suffer severe trauma or get depressed. Hence, frequent talking about shooting and gunfire in educational facilities is important. This way, teachers can prevent childhood exposure to violent behavior and mitigate the impact of previous exposure.
In fact, agencies dealing with child welfare and mental health can’t tackle the problem alone. Combating violence between youth requires robust cooperation between authorities, teachers, social workers, the police, doctors, and parents. Each of us plays a critical role. While some experts screen the exposure to violence, others will offer emotional support or prevent gun exposure through policy initiatives and community activism.