Our school board is currently planning to place armed guards in our schools while barely addressing the root causes that bring the need for armed guards in the first place.

Why not first address what causes these events? Why not be proactive rather than reactive?

Study after study shows that there are three main contributing factors to school shootings: lack of proper mental health services; bullying, both being bullied as well as the bullies themselves; and lack of adequate student/teacher interaction outside of the classroom.

According to our school district’s website, we have 17,711 students and 2,213 staff. Of that entire staff, we have two licensed mental health professionals.

That is all I could find on their website; I contacted the school but haven’t received a call back. Both of these mental health professionals are at a single school: Independence HS, which had 183 students.

I then looked at our two major high schools for mental health professionals or programs. What I found was a small section labeled “Mental Health Resources — Click here for more information.” When I clicked “here,” I was taken to a Google document with a list of mental health providers outside of the school system.

Providers that are themselves massively overloaded and with many who have wait times in the months.

So it seems we essentially have no meaningful mental health resources for the 17,528 students outside of Independence HS. That’s pretty scary.

Why are we not addressing this massive deficiency first with resources that the school board wants to spend on armed guards, training and weapons?

We already have an amazing local police force that’s not only well equipped and trained for this exact situation, but also has response times that are otherworldly.

We have heavy security in place at our schools already with locked doors, visitor entrance only through administration and, according to the school’s own “School and Student Safety Q&A,” entrance that requires instant Raptor background checks to even be allowed on-site. There are hundreds of security cameras throughout and fencing everywhere. Only thing it seems our schools lack to be considered straight-up prisons are metal detectors and armed guards.

Do we really want our kids in prisons?

Why not spend the money to get a district school psychologist and licensed mental health professionals for each school? Why not have comprehensive mental health built in to our kids’ education so that we prevent school shootings from ever even happening?

These same professionals can run mandatory and regular student/teacher interaction groups outside of the classroom. They can also offer comprehensive bully prevention services and bullying awareness groups, placing a focus on what causes bullying, how to interact with bullies without violence and how to address bullying if all else fails.

Shouldn’t we have more than just passive bully prevention where student/parent reporting is the main focus?

Again why not be proactive rather than reactive? Shouldn’t we be the City of Vision and not the City of Prison Schools?

Shawn Gentry

Rio Rancho

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