Some Thoughts Regarding to School Violence

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Following the school shooting in Florida, I have received several emails from concerned parents asking about the state of our security here at MLWGS.  While I was going to address this in the Sunday Night Update, I feel that platform won’t give me the adequate space to share some thoughts on what we do here to keep us all safe, as well as what you can do as parents and guardians to help out at home.

First, we have a full-time security team that is on campus during the school day as well as when we have major events after hours.  We keep all exterior doors locked during school hours and have controlled access for visitors to the building through the Bluestone Lobby entrance off of Elizabeth Street.  Security conducts regular patrols both in the building as well as the grounds to identify any security issues that need to be addressed.  We receive daily updates regarding movement of those on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry and also monitor any issues that develop on the adjacent VCU and VUU campuses.  We conduct regular drills that include lockdowns as well as armed intruder scenarios.  In short, we do what just about every other school in America is doing.  But as events have shown, it isn’t always enough.

One common denominator in just about all of these tragedies is the belief that there were warning signs present prior to someone killing children.  Going all the way back to Columbine in the late 90s, the shooters were known to classmates, teachers, and the community at large as people who were either bullied, had mental health issues, or had made a threatening statements to others either in person or on social media.  In some cases, they had amassed weapons right under the eyes of their family members.  In all cases, somebody could have said something and been persistent if they felt that their warnings had not been heeded.  While it may not have prevented all of these tragedies, it may have made the critical difference in some.  This is what we can do to try to minimize the threat to our school community.

If you know of a person who is being bullied, tell someone.  If you know of a person who is suffering from untreated depressed, is often unreasonably angry toward others, or who has told you that they want to hurt themselves or others, tell someone.  If you know of a person posting threatening messages or aggressive pictures of themselves with weapons on social media, tell someone.  If something doesn’t look right, tell someone.  Be the person who made a difference, not someone that wished that they had done the right thing after things have gone horribly wrong.

We are all in this together.  Each of us has hopes and dreams and we all deserve the chance to try to make those hopes and dreams a reality.  We all deserve to be safe and free from fear.  As a kid in the 1970s, every first Wednesday of the month, the big siren in the schoolyard blared and we hid under our desks to prepare for a nuclear attack, which seemed like a very real possibility at the time.  Those drills have passed and are now replaced with even scarier ones.

Having said all of this, I am confident that we can all continue to work together to keep MLWGS the special place that it is.  You have my word that I will work as hard as I can to keep this a safe campus, to minimize risks, and to have the conversations that need to take place to ensure that at the end of the day, we are all reunited with our loved ones.  As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns.