Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Safer campuses for kids not only solution

By the Advocate Editorial Board
March 5, 2013 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated March 4, 2013 at 9:05 p.m.

A school shooting is a terrifying scenario. No one ever thinks it will happen in their hometown to their children. But in today's society, where mass shootings are becoming more and more prevalent, assuming safety is not enough.

The Victoria Independent School District has decided to add extra security features to all of the district's elementary schools, as well as to Howell Middle School. The extra measures include 46 security card readers, 19 additional security doors, two cameras with monitoring systems, eye ports or peepholes and a call button system for admission into the school building. Members of the school office staff will be able to observe visitors coming to the school and give them access through the call button system.

We are glad VISD is taking steps to increase campus security and ensure students have a safe environment to learn and grow. While these measures may slow down or stop an attempted attack, we believe the true answer to the mass shooting problem is a more focused effort to improve mental health services in the United States.

Many of the mass shooters in the past few years have shown obvious signs of mental illness. James Holmes, who killed 12 people at a midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Co., in 2012 was seeing a psychiatrist and called himself "the Joker" after the incident. Jared Loughner, who shot former Rep. Gabby Giffords and several others in Tucson, Az., was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The investigation is still ongoing in the case of Adam Lanza, who killed 26 children and teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., but we think it is clear there is a need for a more focused look at mental health services to help prevent these kinds of horrific incidents. It is true that it is almost impossible to anticipate or predict when someone will become violent or act on violent urges but to ignore the problem and limit treatment options is counterproductive and wrong.

As with any dangerous situation, it may be impossible to stop every violent incident. A gunman only needs to be successful once, while security measures must be constantly vigilant to avoid another mass shooting. So we are glad VISD is taking measures to protect students and staff from a mass shooting. But the responsibility for student safety does not just lie with schools. It also relies on all of us doing our best to provide the necessary mental health care to stop someone from becoming the next Lanza.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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