Taking Politics Out of Securing Schools
Most responsible adults would agree that child safety is paramount, so solving school safety should not be controversial. Unfortunately, many proposed solutions show large partisan gulfs in support. If we want to make progress, we should consider answers that transcend our political divides.
The Pressing Issue of School Security
There are few issues facing the American public that feel more urgent than addressing armed violence in our institutions of learning. K-12 schools and college campuses hold some of our most vulnerable and prized populations, but repeated violent incidents show that they are not being protected as they should. Every shooting is a tragedy that we all hope will be the last, and support is growing to do something about it. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 69% of parents surveyed are at least somewhat concerned about a shooting happening at their school. However, school administrators hoping to respond to parental concerns face an additional challenge: finding a nonpartisan solution to a problem that sadly, can act as a magnet for political conflict.
The Problem of Partisan Solutions
Fortunately, Pew’s data provides some helpful insights here – parents strongly favor some solutions over others, particularly those that apply a point of human interaction to the problem of prevention. Improved mental health screening and treatment ranks the highest overall, and increased presence of law enforcement or security officers takes second place. However, those overall numbers do not capture an important facet of the hunt for a school security solution. When you begin to break numbers down by political leaning, divides emerge. Those two solutions differed in their levels of support among parents by 15 and 23 percentage points, respectively. While that should not shut down conversation about those proposed solutions, it is a good reason to explore less partisan options. Getting dragged into unwanted political fights is an unnecessary frustration for leaders on a mission to protect students, and it is obvious that other popular options like banning assault-style weapons or arming teachers score even worse for partisanship. So which solution garners the most comparable levels of support among parents, and which solution is least likely to result in political finger-pointing?
Make Progress with Security Screening
Again, the Pew data provides an answer. No solution was less partisan than metal detectors, which had a left-right split of only 5 percentage points. The next-least partisan option had a split that was triple that size. Of course, if metal detectors were a universally unpopular solution then they could still be called nonpartisan, but 79% of parents thought that metal detectors were at least a somewhat effective preventer of school shootings. In our experience, metal detectors provide a low cost, highly effective last line of defense for school facilities.
What is the takeaway? Is it to abandon the pursuit of student mental health and increased law enforcement presence in schools in favor of metal detector screening? Not at all – a serious security solution should be comprised of multiple systems working together and covering their respective weaknesses. They are only one piece of an effective school response. Nevertheless, when administrators (or motivated parents!) are looking to secure their schools, metal detectors provide more than just security. They provide consensus, an indispensable ingredient for building a path forward to a safer tomorrow for our children and educators.
If your school or university campus wants to make strides towards a more secure future, and metal detectors are of interest to you, Garrett has already developed a host of resources and tools to help you plan for prevention. Garrett is a leader in the education market with products that have been proven to provide effective, high-throughput security screening for schools across the United States. To learn more about Garrett’s screening solutions and how you can make your schools safer, visit us at Secure Their Future | Garrett Metal Detectors.
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