To prevent guns from entering schools, many districts have purchased metal detectors, installed security cameras, locked exterior doors, and hired guards, notes the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families. Several speakers at the recent White House summit on school safety, including the University of Colorado’s Delbert Elliott and specialist Thomas Kube, suggested metal detectors not only were ineffective but sent a negative message to students. Many journalists have tested school security measures and found them wanting: entering doors meant to be locked, passing checkpoints where the security guards had disappeared, smuggling weapons through or around the metal detectors, wandering the hallways and entering classrooms as well as cafeterias without being challenged.
The School Violence Resource Center at the University of Arkansas seeks solutions that will not become entangled in politics. The center says risk factors that might contribute to shootings include drug and alcohol use, mental health problems, abuse and neglect of children at home, high-crime neighborhoods, poverty, and involvement with delinquent peers. Director James Clark, a former police officer, believes principals, classroom teachers, and social workers must team with parents and guardians to improve conditions at school and at home simultaneously. Clark and colleagues seem especially enthusiastic about on-site, specially trained school resource officers as a means of prevention.