Back in the 1970s and 1980s, when I was in school, about the worst thing anyone had to worry about was bullying or getting a bad grade.
These days, as events throughout the nation have shown, the biggest fear is that a school might become the target or a shooting incident.
I hate that I even have to think about such a possibility, let alone write about it. But for better or worse, we aren’t living in the 1980s anymore.
Our local law enforcement, school districts and elected leaders — along with whatever community support we can offer — must work in concert to help ensure the safety of our children.
Bad things can happen anywhere, as incidents at shopping centers, hotels, and even places of worship have shown, but protecting our students in the places where they go to learn is such a basic, fundamentally important endeavor.
A recent press release from state Rep. Ryan Guillen announced that the Texas Legislature passed a bill which will provide $200 million for schools throughout the state to enhance safety and security for students, teachers and staff.
While $200 million is nice, in my opinion $2 billion wouldn’t be too much if it will help keep our schools safe.
Some of the things the funds will be used for include campus-wide shooter alarm systems, vehicle barriers, metal detectors at school entrances, school-based mental health centers and hiring of counselors for mental health needs.
If would be much better of course, if we didn’t have to even consider the possibility of such threats, but that’s unfortunately not the reality of the world in which we live.
“It is appalling that we need to prepare for these horrendous attacks, but it is a reality that we must come to terms with,” Guillen said. “In order to keep our students safe it is necessary that we work to understand what causes these attacks, and all we can do to alleviate their effects on our communities.”
Without getting into a political debate, and I am glad that Guillen didn’t use the issue as an opportunity to launch an attack on gun owners themselves, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding citizens who would never even think about using a firearm to commit a crime, let alone hurt someone.
I believe one of the factors that has led to acts of public violence is the fact that such violence in entertainment is so prolific that it is hard to avoid, whether one seeks out that type of entertainment or not.
Although you could easily echo the words of Solomon that “there is nothing new under the sun,” it does seem civil discourse has all but disappeared, as so many people want to shout their views at others and dehumanize those who have different views.
That same obsession with being right — even at the expense of others — and to lash out at those who have seemingly wronged them (whether intentionally or not may not even matter) no doubt helps to fuel violence.
As long as we live in an imperfect world, there will be threats. But by doing what we can to help protect lives before a tragedy erupts, and by joining together for the benefit of all regardless of differing views, we can at least try to make the world a safer, better place.
Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. A Texan since 1973, he has worked at Texas newspapers for 25 years.