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US schools take hard-line approach to shootings

By AI HEIPING in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-09 07:15
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A wave of shootings at schools in the United States has prompted tougher measures to safeguard students and teachers. [Photo/Agencies]

Tough measures adopted to safeguard students and teachers

As schools reopen across the United States after the summer vacation, the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, is fresh in the minds of parents, students, teachers, administrators and first responders.

The rampage on May 24 at Robb Elementary School, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, was the deadliest school shooting in the US since the attack at Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in 2012.

The Uvalde shooting led to public school districts nationwide "hardening" security to protect the nation's more than 50 million students. "Hardening" is an industry term referring to adding layers of security to schools.

This move has resulted in more armed guards and teachers at schools, a boom for manufacturers and sellers of security systems, and opposition from many communities, teachers' unions and gun control advocates.

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union, said, "Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence.

"We need common-sense solutions now. Schools need more mental health professionals, not pistols; teachers need more resources, not revolvers. Arming teachers makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence."

When the rampage in Uvalde occurred, Rob Couturier said it swamped his business, LockOut USA, which sells the SmartBoot System, a school lockdown and building security system.

Couturier, president and founder of his company, which is based in Michigan, said sales rose by 300 percent last year after a shooting in the state at Oxford High School in Oxford Township. The Nov 30 incident left four students dead and seven people injured, including a teacher. Authorities arrested a fellow student, a 15-year-old sophomore, and charged him as an adult.

"Sales have doubled or tripled since last year" because of the Uvalde shootings, Couturier said.

As of June 8, there had been 27 school shootings this year in the US, including Uvalde, according to Education Week, which started tracking such incidents in 2018.

School boards are adding more armed guards and conducting additional active shooter exercises. More states are allowing teachers, administrators and other staff members to be armed.

Panic buttons, locked classrooms and school entry points, surveillance cameras inside and outside schools, bulletproof glass, emergency communications systems, and a host of new technology devices are being added at a cost of millions of dollars.

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