Dear Straight Talk: To combat school shootings, our school district is considering arming teachers who undergo extensive training. All this is making my daughter , 17, even more nervous about school shootings — while my son, 15, asked if he could take gun training. I really don’t know how to respond to them, nor the best overall direction. Some teachers I had in high school I wouldn’t want anywhere near a gun. — John in Pennsylvania
Moriah, 17, Rutland, Vt.: When adults fight violence with more violence it spells “no solution.” That’s what’s frightening. Why are we not connecting with mentally unstable people and learning their triggers? Why aren’t we fostering human connections to prevent people from feeling unconnected? Let’s make life an improvement project, not a scary video game.
Taylor, 17, Santa Rosa: I’m very much FOR arming teachers. I’m also for gun control. When people lash out at unprotected CHILDREN, protection is needed. But it shouldn’t be so easy for mentally unstable people to get guns.
Matt, 19, Mission Viejo: School shootings result from mental illness. Sure, guns provide a way to kill, but a knife or car can kill, too. I support trained teachers carrying arms. Waiting for police means more deaths. However, applicants must be extensively evaluated — way beyond a background check. Regarding your son’s interest in gun safety, look into it. Knowing how to operate a gun is essential for safety (such as unloading a dropped gun to prevent it from firing). Guns are around, legally and illegally, and law-abiding citizens should know how to operate them.
Brandon, 22, Mapleton, Maine: Kids suffer when engulfed in hysteria. If we throw guns into their hands at 15, who are we to scoff at African child soldiers? Schools need sensible, non-hysterical security. At my high school, an intimidating history teacher carried a concealed firearm. His sons were police and we trusted him. He only drew it once during my four years, when a student began throwing computer monitors at a teacher after being caught on porn.
Brie, 23, San Francisco: It’s scary. In high school we had “shelter-in-place” drills where you cowered under your desk behind your backpack and textbooks. I would’ve felt safer knowing some teachers were trained and armed — however, students must NOT know who carries. Mostly we need to raise kids differently. Too many are unattached to humans. Attachment to violent games is worse, but I was nanny to super-awkward kids who couldn’t pry themselves from “harmless” electronics long enough to say three words. We also must stop overprescribing psychotropic drugs. Almost all shooters are on these drugs, which numb emotions and can induce suicidal thoughts.
Bronwyn, 15, Santa Rosa: How will a teacher know when to actually shoot someone? I think this will cause more harm than good. I guarantee if teachers have guns, students will become more interested in them — and students are the typical shooters. Real prevention happens when people care for each other enough that nobody becomes desperate and insane.
Dear John: I hope we’ve been helpful. I, too, think children deserve sane, trained protection so they’re not “sitting ducks” to mentally ill juvenile males. That said, without concurrently eliminating causes of mental illness, arming teachers (or letting kids take gun training for this purpose, versus hunting) is a bad video game.
Schools are targets because so many kids are harmed emotionally there. Every campus needs proven programs like Safe School Ambassadors (see www.community-matters.org), which has fostered, in over 1,000 schools, true inclusion and happiness of kids normally bullied or excluded. We also must restore childhood.
Early childhood stress and lack of human attachment both cause measurable malformation of the brain — setting up huge future problems. Band-Aids are fine, but if we only apply Band-Aids, i.e., gun control, arming teachers, monitoring the mentally ill, we are tragically ignoring the real wound. — Lauren
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