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Students should not be punished for walkout

Editorial Board • Feb 28, 2018 at 9:30 PM

Order and discipline are essential in our schools, and it is the rare occasion that they are to be bypassed by something of greater importance to students, educators and the community. A walkout by several dozen Dobyns-Bennett High School students to demand their safety be a priority was one of those times.

To a degree, young minds across the country are being co-opted for political purposes, but there’s no denying the passion and deep concern students have about whether they are at risk in their second homes.

One of the D-B students said they were cautioned against the walkout. “They (school officials) told us we were being childish and to stop playing around,” the student said, adding that she wants to “make the government put metal detectors in our schools.”

The students said they disregarded a warning from the principal in staging the walkout to bring attention to what they called safety and security problems at the 2,200-student school in light of the recent shooting that killed 17 at a Florida high school.

Across the country there’s an alleged effort by gun opponents to use high school student protests to push their agenda, and it’s being supported by liberal donors who hope to create new momentum to enact firearms restrictions. Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. alleges that the activism campaign has “George Soros’ fingerprints all over it.” Soros is a prominent supporter of liberal causes.

That may be true. But students are to be commended for standing up for themselves, and they should not be punished for it. Rather, they should be heard. Dismissing them as childish or just wanting a little time out of school as some would suggest sends the wrong message to these young people. Because they are teens doesn’t mean they can’t think for themselves. In fact, sometimes they make a whole lot more sense than some adults who get a microphone every day.

As we said earlier in this space, every school in America should be made as safe as possible including training and arming select teachers and staff if necessary. School buildings must be reinforced — doors, windows and locks — and monitored to ensure that no one is able to enter them without clearance.

And certainly there should be metal detectors on every door with a security agent standing by as students enter school buildings. There are many in our communities who have weapons training including former military and law enforcement personnel who already possess and carry firearms. Having them operate access points at all schools, checking every backpack and bag carried onto the premises, will make for safer campuses.

Yes those are expensive suggestions. But we’re not living in the ’60s when school shootings weren’t even on our radar. We’re living in a different world today.

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