School-safety recommendations emerging
BY World's Editorials Writers
Thursday, February 07, 2013
2/07/13 at 7:04 AM
The members of a state commission on school security and those helping the panel identify solutions to school violence are clearly taking their job very seriously. And it appears they will soon produce some worthwhile recommendations.
Then it will be up to the state's leadership to do what they too often have failed to do in the past: provide adequate funding for proven solutions.
State Mental Health Commissioner Terri White told commission members that it is essential to confront the issues of mental illness that so often show up in schools, and that proven programs such as the state's "systems of care" intervention can help address those issues.
"We have local school systems that for whatever reasons ... do not want to deal with mental health issues, even though they are dealing with the consequences of it every day," she said.
The systems of care approach provides a troubled youth and family members with the various types of treatment and care they might need to stabilize their situation. This program has been proven to have a significant effect on arrest rates, school detentions, out-of-home placements and attempts at self-harm.
University of Oklahoma associate psychology professor Ryan Brown, a member of the commission, called for creating an atmosphere in schools that will encourage students to report suspected plans of violence. Such a change in the "culture of schools" could be very effective in preventing violence and would cost schools next to nothing.
He's exactly right about those observations. Extensive research shows that most school shooters communicate their intentions to others, sometimes in more ways than one. If students and others who learn of such possible plans felt comfortable reporting what they've heard to someone in authority, there's a good chance the plans could be thwarted. Authorities believe that's what happened in December in Bartlesville, where an 18-year-old allegedly was planning a school shooting but was arrested after another student reported the plan to a school administrator.
The commission will soon make its recommendations to the Legislature, and then it will be up to lawmakers do their part. If schools can find ways to encourage the reporting of suspected plans of violence, and if lawmakers will fund other promising recommendations, Oklahoma schools will be the safer for it.
Original Print Headline: Safe schools