Arming Teachers in Columbia Public Schools? Panel Debates Safety Strategies

3 years 5 months 1 week ago February 12, 2013 Feb 12, 2013 Tuesday, February 12 2013 Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:15:00 PM CST in News
By: Meghann Mollerus

COLUMBIA - Gun violence and control became a hot topic of discussion in not only President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday evening but also at Columbia's Hickman High School.

Parents, teachers and students packed the seats in the school's commons area to engage in a student-organized panel forum on violence and safety in U.S. schools and society.  The panel consisted of an MU sociologist, an MU law professor, a Columbia Police Department sergeant and Columbia Public Schools superintendent Chris Belcher--all whom offered different viewpoints about whether teachers should be armed with guns in their classrooms and how best to protect students from violence. 

Belcher said even before the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre that left 20 students and six teachers and school administrators dead in December, Columbia Public Schools has been working on fine-tuning a three-part violence prevention plan that involves training teachers how to assess the severity level of a potentially violent threat.  Other plan objectives include establishing better communication and relationships between students and adults and leaving school safety decision making in the power of public school boards--not the state legislature.

"The state legislature has no business telling school districts that they have to allow people with conceal and carry permits to have weapons in the school without disclosing and creating knowledge to the school. One of the greatest democracies we have is public school boards," Belcher said.

Nonetheless, there currently are four bills on this topic in the Mo. state legislature.  House Bill 70, which would allow a teacher or school administrator to carry a concealed firearm into a school, currently awaits a final read and vote in the Mo. House of Representatives.

Libertarian panelist Gary Nolan expressed support for the bill's objective.  He said arming teachers who have proper conceal and carry permits is the only way to "respond to a bad guy with a gun."  "There is nothing else to protect you," he said.  "It's a false sense of security to believe we lock the door and the bad man won't come in."

MU sociologist and panelist Wayne Brekhus argued that of the 4,000 children and teenagers killed by guns each year, 60 percent are homicides.  He said of that number, less than 10, in most years, happen in schools.  Columbia Police Sgt. and panelist Joe Bernhard affirmed this point, saying, "I'm pretty comfortable with my kids coming to school here and feel they're safe.  I'm more worried about my kids getting in an accident on the way to and from school."

MU law professor and panelist S. David Mitchell said, "We ignore the fact that schools are microchosms of society, and we need to consider outside and inside factors," such as bullying and mental health, which can be "triggering mechanisms of violence."

Such outside and inside factors, Belcher said, can and do involve not only student behavior.  "Our biggest threat every day is an emotional parent, a custody dispute, an estranged spouse or things of that nature. When they come to our schools, whether it be [through] a secretary or teacher or administrator, we have to assess is this person just upset, should we calm them down, have a conversation, or is this person potentially violent?  These are tough decisions for people who were trained to be educators."

Belcher said the Columbia Public Schools system soon will begin a process of putting lock-down and buzz-in systems on all school doors and increasing the number of school security cameras.

 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Big energy companies like Ameren and Empire may not be totally complying when it comes to renewable energy... More >>
25 minutes ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 2:42:48 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The 66th annual Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair operates strictly on a volunteer basis. The... More >>
52 minutes ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 2:16:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man is critically injured after driving a go-kart into the side of a St. Louis... More >>
3 hours ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 12:03:28 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - College pal David Roloff has fond memories of Democratic candidate Vice President Tim Kaine at the University of... More >>
3 hours ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 11:42:00 AM CDT in Top Stories
CHESTERFIELD (AP) — Police are searching for the suspect after an attempted child abduction at a suburban St. Louis outlet... More >>
6 hours ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 9:07:52 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Fire crews put out a structure fire at a condemned house on 4th Avenue off Providence Road in... More >>
6 hours ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 8:50:00 AM CDT in News
AVA, Mo. (AP) — Police say a teenager has wounded another teen and then killed himself before dawn in a... More >>
7 hours ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 7:45:09 AM CDT in Continuous News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Strong thunderstorms across parts of Missouri are offering relief from the oppressive heat and humidity, but... More >>
7 hours ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 7:27:24 AM CDT in Continuous News
PHILADELPHIA - Columbia resident Persephone Dakopolos arrived Sunday in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. Dakopolos was selected at the... More >>
12 hours ago July 25, 2016 Jul 25, 2016 Monday, July 25 2016 Monday, July 25, 2016 3:04:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The National Association of Realtors reported this week a 9-year high for sales of existing homes this past... More >>
23 hours ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 4:06:00 PM CDT in News
WILDWOOD (AP) — Two people were killed in a two-vehicle collision in eastern Missouri. St. Louis County police say... More >>
23 hours ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 3:52:10 PM CDT in News
DIAMOND (AP) — Southwest Missouri has a newly dedicated prairie. The 163-acre George Washington Carver Prairie was dedicated Saturday.... More >>
1 day ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 3:01:01 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Tim Kaine has always been a leader. While as a student at the University of Missouri, he... More >>
1 day ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 1:37:00 PM CDT in News
HARRISONVILLE (AP) — A western Missouri man has been found not guilty in a 2014 fatal shooting at a Cass... More >>
1 day ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 1:25:37 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A member of the Clay family has represented St. Louis and northern suburbs in Congress for... More >>
1 day ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 10:38:26 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Republican candidates in Missouri's gubernatorial primary are pledging an aggressive law-and-order approach, two years after the... More >>
1 day ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 10:03:16 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Road closings this summer in downtown Columbia could make it harder to enjoy local shops and restaurants in... More >>
1 day ago July 24, 2016 Jul 24, 2016 Sunday, July 24 2016 Sunday, July 24, 2016 3:43:00 AM CDT in News
LAKE OF THE OZARKS — One person was injured after a boat caught on fire at the 38-mile marker by... More >>
1 day ago July 23, 2016 Jul 23, 2016 Saturday, July 23 2016 Saturday, July 23, 2016 10:10:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 82°
4pm 82°
5pm 85°
6pm 85°
7pm 84°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

3:00p
The Dr. Oz Show
4:00p
Dr. Phil
5:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 5
3:00p
The Bill Cunningham Show
4:00p
King of the Hill
4:30p
The Cleveland Show

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
American Ninja Warrior
9:00p
NBC News Special: 2016 Democratic National Convention
7:00p
MADtv 20th Anniversary Reunion
8:00p
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld