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Speak Out: School Safety In Montgomery County—Is It Enough?

Do guns belong in schools? How do we handle bullying? Should schools be a fortress or remain relatively open?

There are seven armed police officers in high schools, 214 school security officials placed throughout the county, buzzer entry systems, locked doors and security cameras—but is it enough to keep Montgomery County’s public school children safe?

Dozens of Montgomery County parents packed the Montgomery County Public Schools headquarters in Rockville last night for a community discussion on school safety, but Wednesday's meeting was just the beginning of an ongoing conversation, according to officials. What are your thoughts on safety in Montgomery County public schools?

Some talking points from recent county discussions:

  • There are different powers that SROs have in schools versus school security officers. In terms of ability to use lethal force, only police officers have that ability. Is there a place for any MCPS security officers to carry a weapon? —County Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg, chair of Montgomery County Council Public Safety Committee
  • What more can be done to prevent bullying in schools? One parent, whose child has been a victim of bullying, believes only strict accountability is the answer.
  • What best practices already exist among schools that can be rolled out across the county? That’s something that we, the school board, need to look at – using the resources we have in the best way we can. —Montogmery County school board President Christopher Barclay (Dist. 4) of Takoma Park.
  • What balance should exist between tight physical security at schools and the flexibility needed for a nurturing education? I just have elementary school students, and I don’t want to see them caged; they need to go out and play, their science teacher needs to be able to take them outside.—Cheryl Peirce, parent and board member of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs.

Tell us your answers in the comments below.

MaryJane January 18, 2013 at 05:38 AM
Better support and resources for families from an early age, smaller class size and better mental health care are key. However, there are other safety issues not being addressed. WIFI and cell towers are exposing our children to microwave radiation. Radiation associated with significant health effects. Even at very low doses it increases the permeability of the blood brain barrier Our school system needs to educate itself on these issues and protect out children. WIFI emits a Class 2 B carcinogen! Why is it allowed on school grounds? http://ehtrust.org/ The American Academy of Pediatrics is asking the FCC to reevaluate microwave radiation levels because children absorb more of it. “Many people wrongly still regard the question of cell phone safety as a fringe issue. The fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics is officially supporting a bill calling for more research, more protective standards, and better labeling of cell phones’ associated radiation exposure should be a wake-up call that this is an issue that must be taken seriously. http://www.ewg.org/release/american-academy-pediatrics-endorses-cell-phone-safety-bill
MaryJane January 18, 2013 at 05:51 AM
Bullying is best prevented by school staff, all school staff- taking the time to support an atmosphere of respect at the school. Start early, intensively and with everyone on board. About gun violence- best to read this Post article http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/can-mothers-take-on-gun-violence-with-the-same-impact-as-drunk-driving/2013/01/17/e83aa294-60ca-11e2-b05a-605528f6b712_story.html?hpid=z5 Wallace and other moms worked with schools to get more security. “Not armed guards walking around with their guns out, but we wanted counselors. Counselors who would know that fight that killed Andre started in school. And it should’ve ended in school, with people talkin’ it out,” she said. “It’s always about communication.” I think a mothers says it best
Joe Galvagna January 18, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Maybe if parents took more of an interest in their childred instead of asking school to teach disapline some of this could be prevented. Scholar are not babysitters they are there to teach subjects RRR. Parents do your job first do not expect the schools to raise your children. The schools need a lot of more security to protect our children and staff. Armed guards would be a great start. Just think if the school in Conn. Had of one armed guard how many of the staff and those beautiful little babies would be alive now. You left wingers must get your heads out of the sand and face reality we need to protect our schools not act like this will not happen to us. A buzzer or locked doors even glass is not protection. We must stand tall and carry a big stick. The best defence is a great offence.
Kerby January 25, 2013 at 01:52 AM
What is our most valuable resource if not our children? If our government buildings are protected by police, why shouldn't our children have the same protections? I don't see having an armed police officer at each school as over the top or oppressive, if done correctly. And security guards? C'mon. They are placeholders and a false sense of security. You want to make your police force really effective in the community? Then you need to connect at a personal level. Not just enforcement. If trained in the right manner, this position would do a LOT more than just protect our kids. It could act as an early role model for kids that currently view police as someone to avoid and fear... not someone that they know and trust. Want to see bullying reduced? Yeah. We have an entire division of police assigned to protecting people on the road. Protecting people that are already inside of vehicles that the government mandates be incredibly safe. And we have Why don't we have similar for schools (other than transit is a revenue source). There are SIX police offers county wide that serve in this function. Our kid's are citizens as well, after all. Maybe after trying to ease your kid's fears after then next school massacre you can ask them if they think having a police officer at their school is a good idea.
Seema Henn May 29, 2013 at 12:48 AM
I now replying in May is quite some time from your Jan post but Joe you are absolutely correct. The problem these days is that parents expect the the school's staff and our police officers to raise our children and protect them. Excuse me but I gave birth to my children and it is my husband and I's responsibility to make sure that they know their right from wrong and they know how to be safe. The police is for extra protection and the school's teach not to raise. The parents these days have forgotten so much of how we were raised in the past and how much safer it was. Your neighbor knew you and your parents and because of that your parents knew what you did wrong before you got in the door. We need to bring this back. This will help with bullying and making the schools safer!

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