By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Two local mothers concerned about school security are organizing a march later this month to rally others around this issue. The Secure Our Schools March is being planned for Saturday, March 17, …
Two local mothers concerned about school security are organizing a march later this month to rally others around this issue.
The Secure Our Schools March is being planned for Saturday, March 17, at 3 p.m. in front of the Bradley County Courthouse in downtown Cleveland.
Salome De Pina, mother of two children ages 5 and 7, and Shannon Brookshire, mother of a 10-year-old, say the school shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14 inspired them to plan the event.
De Pina describes feeling “intense pain and fear” as she thought about the shooting while driving her children to school Feb. 15. After discussing this with Brookshire, they resolved to do what they could to address the issue of school security locally.
“We want to let the schools know we are behind them and that we want to support measures to get the schools safe,” De Pina said. “I’m sure that they’re all already talking about this, but it’s time for parents to stand up and take action to protect our schools as well. We can’t just sit and wait for the next tragedy to occur.”
The event’s organizers say they will talk about the issue of school security, before leading attendees in a peaceful march. They say local law enforcement officials have been notified, and invitations have been sent to local public school officials.
Brookshire said she would love to see parents meeting together to brainstorm ways to improve school security. Both mothers said they then hope to share these ideas with local leaders after the event.
“In the end, we want our schools to have more security,” said Brookshire. “Our schools do have SROs, but not enough," she said of the availability of school resource officers. "We like the possibility of adding things like metal detectors to make sure no weapons get into the schools in the first place, and adding more SROs outside the schools. One SRO isn’t enough for some of these larger schools.”
While guns have been part of national discussions on school safety, De Pina said they are not advocating for allowing teachers to carry in their classrooms. She added that adding more SROs, who generally do come armed, would result in added protection on campus.
The organizers say they most want to be sure that the local schools have good safety strategies in place, and they would like to see school leaders working together to make sure these strategies are consistent from school to school. They also said schools should do a better job of addressing bullying, to ensure victims don’t turn to violence in revenge.
They acknowledge there are a lot of differing views on what needs to be done to improve school security. However, they say they hope to start a helpful community-wide conversation on with this event.
They again stressed that this event is being planned to draw attention to the need to protect local students and to encourage local schools to add more protections.
“We want this to be a positive event,’” De Pina said. “People are welcome to bring signs and banners for the march — but nothing political. This is not about guns or the NRA (National Rifle Association). This is about people wanting to talk about protecting students in the local schools.”
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