By: Maisie Stout
A month after the tragic school shooting in Florida, a bill was proposed and passed through the House of Representatives that will help “prevent” school violence. The bill, introduced by representative John Rutherford from Florida, is called STOP (Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing) School Violence Act of 2018. The bill has yet to pass in the Senate.
“There is still much to be done, but the best way to keep our students and teachers safe is to give them the tools and training to recognize the warning signs to prevent violence,” Rutherford said to ABC News.
The proposed bill aims at providing schools better security infrastructures, anonymous ways to report suspicious activities, and training for teachers and law enforcement officers. Nowhere in the STOP School Violence Act is gun control discussed or even addressed, which is most likely why the NRA was quick to show approval for the bill.
“At my old school, in Washington PA, there were over 2000 students. It was AAAA school. They had metal detectors and multiple armed officers, and there has never been a school shooting there. This school is also in a pretty bad neighborhood, yet there still haven’t been any shootings. If these measures are working in places like Washington PA, why aren’t other parts of the country already doing it,” junior Casey Jewell stated.
States are also taking matters into their own hands by creating their own state laws to further restrict guns and provide more protection to students. In Florida, for example, Governor Rick Scott proposed raising the age to buy assault rifles to 21 and creating measures to prevent people with mental illnesses from buying weapons. He also called for law enforcement to be in every public school in the state.
Nothing in West Virginia is currently being done, but our state does have laws previously enacted to help keep schools safe. The WV Department of Education passed the ‘West Virginia Manual for Expected Behavior in Safe and Supportive Schools’, which basically outlines what students are supposed to be taught throughout their education to “create a climate that supports development of the dispositions that are valued in our communities, state, nation, and world.” In layman’s terms, we are supposed to be taught social skills, self-awareness and self-management at certain times during our education.
Is it enough to simply address the issue? Is better security and a way to report behavior enough to prevent another school shooting?
“Anything can help. I will gladly be trained for anything, I think better educating people on these issues would benefit everyone. If we had more time built in the school day to really sit down with our students and help them to cope with stress and everyday things that build up to be gun worthy, we could make a difference,” English teacher Saunyell Atkinson said.
There are mixed opinions towards the STOP Act, most of which either agree that it is a good start towards stricter laws or believe it is not even close to achieving anything. No matter what your beliefs, this new law should be viewed as an attempt by our lawmakers to help prevent another tragedy.