There was an interesting article this past week on Education Week written by several education researchers who are university education professors in response to the recent school shooting in Florida. The authors say there is “no empirical evidence” that the “target-hardening” approaches schools employ decreases the likelihood of school shootings. “Target-hardening” is a focus on “fortifying” a school with lockdown policies, security technology, checklists to assess student potential for harm, and procedures that in the end send the message that schools are not safe places to be and also impacts and may even change our perspectives of students.
Instead the authors call for an “educational response” by schools. Schools need to examine how their programs and functions create environments of social anxiety, alienation, humiliation, and isolation. This happens via sports, homecoming royalties, dances, tough discipline policies, and emphasizing “expressive individualism” like recognizing academic achievement and “heroic” teachers. By setting up what the writers call “status tournaments,” employing “force and control” in discipline, and focusing on “identity and expression,” schools may be fostering environments that fuel futility and frustration and develop negative self-images that in turn leads some students to react violently.
About the Author: R. V. Stanke, Ed.S, J.D., a licensed attorney, teacher, and school principal, is affiliated with LEAD Legal & Educational Services, LLC. LEAD Legal & Educational Services, LLC provides services to schools and school districts and offers continuing education programs and graduate courses in school law related areas to teachers and school administrators. For more information contact www.leadeducationservices.com).