School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: This is NOT SCHOOL SAFETY

Hoping to have a peaceful Saturday morning was not meant to be today. I came across this article, “North Carolina school district planning to put AR-15 in every school in the event of another school shooting,” and my heart started racing.  This is not school safety. It is dangerous and reactive which will turn schools into battlefields. 

Hardening schools does not work. We need research to guide actions, not a knee-jerk response to the horrors of school shootings. Fighting weapons with weapons does not address the root cause of violence, in fact, it only perpetuates a culture of violence. 

Gun violence in schools continues to rise despite steady increases in security and law enforcement staffing, data shows. Proposals to ‘harden’ public K–12 schools overlook clear evidence that these approaches fail to reduce gunfire incidents.

Gun Violence Security Staffing One-Pager

Here is another perspective: No, hardening schools doesn’t make students safer | Opinion Surveillance cameras, metal detectors, door-locking systems and armed guards have not prevented school shootings

School safety is not just a physical challenge, but a psychological one too. A comprehensive approach to school safety actively engages students, teachers and parents, identifies high-risk individuals using threat assessment techniques, and instructs teachers and administrators to refer these students to mental health services.

We need to create schools that promote connectedness, healing, and environments for flourishing. We do not have to live this way or educate our children in schools that feel more like prisons than warm, welcoming communities of learning. 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides important guidance in creating safe and supportive school environments:

The primary mission of schools is to support students in educational achievement. To reach this goal, children must feel safe, supported, and ready to learn. Children exposed to violence and trauma may not feel safe or ready to learn. Not only are individual children affected by traumatic experiences, but other students, the adults on campus, and the school community can be impacted by interacting or working with a child who has experienced trauma. Thus, as schools maintain their critical focus on education and achievement, they must also acknowledge that mental health and wellness are innately connected to students’ success in the classroom and to a thriving school environment.

Becoming trauma-informed should be an essential component of the overall mission of the education system. A trauma-informed school recognizes that trauma affects staff, students, families, communities, and systems. Thus organizational support, partnerships, and capacity-building are essential.

The following represent the Essential Elements for a Trauma-Informed School System:

School nurses can be part of the solution to introduce our schools to healing-centered resources that do not further harden schools. 

  • Would more school staff or community members come forward? Threat assessment vs wellness check?

  • School safety plans developed across the country must address the need for safe, nurturing schools that offer physical protection from guns as well as close connections and supportive relationships between staff and students. 

  • What if we made gun locks available in school health offices?

The most effective approach to creating safe and supportive school environments requires a comprehensive, coordinated effort including schoolwide, districtwide, and communitywide strategies.

1 thought on “The Relentless School Nurse: This is NOT SCHOOL SAFETY”

  1. Dear god. I can not unimagine the stream of “what could possibly go wrong here” from reading this completely irresponsible, reactive, dangerous, poorly thought through approach!

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