School Safety Listening Session looks at ways to better protect students

06/26/2018 09:11 PM

LEXINGTON – How to better protect the states schools from tragedies like the one this past January at Marshall County High School was on the minds of Federal and state officials who took part in the Federal Commission on School Safety Listening Session in Lexington.

Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, who represents Marshall County, admits that there’s not one single solution to the problem, but a series of them which work hand in hand with one another.

“I think we have to focus on each individual layer of this and try to find the best solutions within each layer in dealing with the physical security on the sites, in the future, technologies that might help out with this, the way we design our schools with the crime prevention through environmental design concept, mental health issues, training for teachers and school personnel in this area,” Carroll said.

One tool being discussed in Tennessee is an app which would allow students to privately communicate with their local educators or law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

Gov. Matt Bevin responded by suggesting that for some kids, use of cell phones has become part of the problem.

“This is a very, very, very dangerous tool in the hands of young people,” Bevin said. “So many studies have been done that show significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression, compulsive control problems, sleep disorder, and every single one of these things is a significant contributor to depression and suicidal thoughts.”

Bevin also credited Marshall County officials and most of the state’s media for not publishing the name of the Marshall County school shooter at the time of the incident suggesting that doing so could result in copycat incidents.

“From the very moment it occurred, my office, our state police, the sheriff, ATF, the FBI, the superintendent of that school district, we said right from the get-go, we’re not going to celebrate, talk about or name the young man who was responsible,” Bevin said. “His name was never mentioned and it was agreed that it wouldn’t be.”

Carroll, whose district also experienced the shooting tragedy at old Heath High School in 1997, admits that folks in the community never get over school tragedies like Health or at Marshall County, but want to try to learn and work at ways to keep school shootings from happening in the future.

“Right now, we just have to take steps to ensure when school starts back in August that we’re prepared and making significant steps,” Carroll said. “I think one of the most important things that we need to do is listen to the parents and make sure as a state legislature that we give school districts some options. I think in very many ways, this is an issue that we need to let the local districts decide what they feel is best for their community.”

The day concluded with members of the general public being allowed to address officials on how to improve school safety.

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