School Safety | St. Louis Public Radio

School Safety

Natalie Heath, of Marquette High School, cheers as St. Louis-area high school students speak at a protest outside Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office in downtown St. Louis. April 20, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

High school students from across the St. Louis region took part in another day of action Friday to call for improved school safety and tighter gun control measures.

The protest fell on the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where 13 people were killed. Many consider that event the moment when mass school shootings entered Americans’ consciousness. The Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, has rocketed student activists to the center of the debate over guns.

UMSL criminologists Lee Slocum (at left) and Finn Esbensen discussed a variety of safety issues that students and teachers deal with daily.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Mass shootings in U.S. schools continue to occur and make headlines. Other types of school violence, typically affecting one or two students at a time, garner less attention and more often end in suicide than homicide.

That’s according to University of Missouri–St. Louis criminologist Finn Esbensen, whose recent research in St. Louis County schools alongside colleague Lee Ann Slocum suggests that many young people struggle with school attendance out of fear for their safety.

Visitors to schools likely are used to seeing a sign on the entrance prohibiting firearms. Now a proposed Missouri law would require districts with armed staff to warn attackers they'll be met with "deadly force."
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Most visitors to schools are used to seeing a sign on the entrance making it clear that firearms are prohibited on school property.

Now a proposed Missouri law would require districts that allow some teachers to carry guns to post a sign reading: "Under Missouri law, this school and its staff are authorized to meet threats to student safety with deadly force if necessary."

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A small number of rural Missouri school districts are allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. Instead of following a state law that sets out how districts can arm teachers, the schools are using a private security firm to oversee training.

Some say that raises legal and liability questions.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Glenwood Elementary School sits along a state highway between West Plains and the Arkansas border, in far south-central Missouri. If the school has an emergency, the Howell County Sheriff’s Department is more than 10 minutes away.

Superintendent Wayne Stewart said it’s a situation that makes the district of 240 students especially vulnerable if a shooter ever attacked.

“Very likely, the deed would be done by the time emergency responders got here,” he said.

The director of Missouri’s Center for Education Safety wants the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to require all schools to have plans for responding to active shooters and other emergencies.   

via Flickr | frankjuarez

On Monday night, members of the St. Charles County Council heard the final recommendations from a task force that focused on how school safety can be improved.

Assembled in the wake of last year’s school shooting in Connecticut, the group included members of law enforcement, school administration and mental health services.  

Task force member and County Councilman Terry Hollander said in part the report is meant to be a resource for educators.