Derrick Parks: Looking for a long-term solution

newspaperWe have had school shootings one after another; recently it was in Texas and Indiana. The common question I get asked is how to resolve this issue. As a former assistant chief of police and as a subject matter expert in security, I have experienced many tragic events and have guided community stakeholders and leaders. The solution is to address these critical concerns and to be proactive and learn from past tragedies and loss of innocent life in our schools.

I don’t concur with some of the recommendations by some experts. I am against arming teachers, because our teachers should be focused on educating our kids. This is simply not the right step. Teachers are not trained as security guards or to be proficient with firearms. In my opinion, if teachers were armed too many things can wrong. Teachers should be allowed to do what they do best, and that is being educators and not armed security guards in the classroom.

In addition to teacher involvement, we all know that it takes a village to raise children. The parents must be involved in all aspects of their children’s education and guidance.

Parenting does not stop when kids go to school. Parents need to do a better job of communicating with their children and their children’s teachers. Find out what is going on in school, be involved in PTA activities, and be interested in the growth of your child.

Take part in your children’s life. Don’t just be a passenger but be the driver. Parenting is not easy but if we take the time to listen to our children and understand their concerns parents have a better chance of identifying issues their children may be experiencing. A good relationship and more involvement in your children’s lives in better for everyone, parent, teacher and most importantly the person in school.

In many school shootings there has been the common issue of a shooter having an issue with mental illness. We as a society do a bad job identifying and treating mental illness. What we need to do is especially at schools is do a better job of identifying students that are dealing with mental health issues. We need to have a psychiatrist in every school conducting interviews every quarter/semester.

It’s critical to conduct interviews and communicate with our students; this will help professionals identify those students that need extra help and guidance. Mental illness has been ignored in our society for many decadesand it’s time that we do a matter job of having professionals at each school identifying students that suffering in silence with mental illness so that tragedies can be prevented in our schools in the future.

Another item I am a proponent for is metal detectors at the entrance of all schools. Metal detectors sometimes have a negative connotation, and that is why they are used more frequently in urban schools rather than suburban schools. Well, it’s time that we changed this mindset. Prior shooting has shown that the shooters have been Caucasian males that attend the schools. Knowing these statistics, metal detectors should beconsidered for all areas urban and suburban. Had metal detective been implemented this could have prevented these tragedies.

I am a supporter of having security guards, but just as important are metal detectors. We are living in the 21st century and students can sneak guns into school in their bags or coats or other means. It’s time that we took all necessary precautionary measures and that means metal detectors. It may be a bit obtrusive but it’s an action and necessary step that needs to be taken for our children’s safety.

Finally we need to limit student’s school phone social media activity in schools. School can be difficult for students with cyberbullying and nasty things being said on social media. Let’s monitor what’s being said on social media posts and try to look for warning signs on social media applications. Usually there are warning signs so by monitoring these items, we will do a better job identifying warning signs or seeing comments and actions that raises red flags.

In conclusion, I would recommend following steps mentioned above. In my years of law enforcement, I have never seen an uptick in school violence at this level. It’s time that we took the necessary measures to keep ourstudents and teachers safe. How many more innocent lives will be lost before we act? It’s time that much-needed action was taken at our schools, the sooner the better.

Derrick Parks is CEO of Metropolitan Protective Services Inc.

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