Measures to prevent and address school shooting may be applied and managed at federal, state and school levels. Thus, the US government and authorities of all states may conduct the following actions: improve and adopt amendments to existing gun laws, support and enhance mental health care in schools, as well as restrict access of children to media materials that contain violence. The first federal document aimed at addressing the cases of violence at school was the Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA) implemented in 1994 (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). The provisions of the law obliged all schools to expel any student, who was noticed with weapon on the territory of a school (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). In addition, the US government has increased funding to improve school security, provide professional guard, and install metal detectors (Mongan & Walker, 2012). Numerous scientific and analytical investigations prove that this federal law has helped to make schools safer significantly reducing gun violence in the educational establishments (Mongan & Walker, 2012). Currently, GFSA focuses on addressing deviant students’ behavior, preventing cases of school shooting, and imposing punishment to those who bring firearms to school (U.S. Department of Education, 2009).
Moreover, President Obama has signed a variety of executive orders aimed at regulation and control of firearm possession, mental health issues, and school shootings. Some of the President’s orders related directly to the problem of school shooting. Thus, the Department of Justice and Homeland Security was authorized to provide constant training and security evaluation for law enforcement officers and school officials with regard to school shooting cases (Bagalman, Caldwell, Finklea, & McCallion, 2013). In addition, the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Education, as well as Health and Human Services were ordered to design emergency planning guides and provide assistance to all schools in managing and preventing cases of school shootings (Bagalman et al., 2013). Finally, the last progressive initiative of the President was the establishment and support of community focused polices, which offer grants to fund school resource officers (Bagalman et al., 2013). According to Bagalman, Caldwell, Finklea, and McCallion (2013), President’s interventions have helped schools to adopt appropriate policies and be ready to address cases of school violence. However, the problem of school shooting has not disappeared and requires federal involvement along with intervention.
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Consequently, current gun-free schools law may be improved by developing and implementing new educational programs or by means of additional courses in schools devoted to the problem of school shooting and funded federally or by states’ assistance. Nevertheless, those programs should be compulsory for all students, as well as free to attend for teachers and parents. Psychologists, law enforcement officers, or police will manage the programs and show students all drastic consequences of school violence, particularly its effect on people, families, community, as well as organizers of school shooting. Thus, the programs will be based on real materials, including evidence of witnesses, victims, and individuals who indirectly have suffered from school shooting. The suggested measure will help to overcome panic and give students knowledge how to react in the event of school shooting, as well as make them aware of all negative consequences. Finally, these programs may reduce likelihood of school shooting, as students will get to know the type of punishment and responsibility that will face the organizers of school shooting according to the law.
Furthermore, lawmakers propose to fight school gun violence by making appropriate amendments to the law and arm teachers in schools. Besides, these initiatives were made after the school shooting in Colorado in 2012 (Bagalman et al., 2013). The legislators suggested to establish special training for teachers with the aim to educate them and train to carry weapon. The initiative received positive and negative responses. Some schools consider that teachers’ arming will contribute to preventing school shooting (BBC News, 2017). Thus, this year, a three-day course of firearms training was conducted in the local school of Weld County (BBC News, 2017). Seventeen teachers participated in this training, were tested on their abilities to handle weapons and got a valuable experience (BBC News, 2017). The course was organized by the Faculty Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response group with the support and cooperation of parents along with law enforcement officers (BBC News, 2017). However, the given change may even provoke school violence and make it more frequent, as students will feel themselves more oppressed and supervised by persons with guns. Therefore, some alternative ways to prevent school shooting are required, for example, improvement of mental health care and psychological service within schools.
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Mental health care and psychological service should work more efficiently in schools and become a primary tool of school violence prevention. It means that the US government or state authority should provide or increase funding and ensure free professional psychological aid in schools with required number of staff to work with each student. Furthermore, school-based mental health services should provide help for parents, teachers, and school administrators. Hence, professional assistance in addressing abnormal behavior of students or any conflict that may happen with students, teachers or parents will help to reduce negative consequences and avoid school violence. The mental health care should be constantly available for students, teachers, and parents. Nonetheless, this measure will be more efficient to prevent school violence, as it will help to deter initial behavioral or mental problems of students, teachers, or parents, which may cause school violence. Mental health care professionals within schools will examine students’ backgrounds, disposition to deviant behavior, anger, and conduct constant monitoring and control. In addition, they will address any concerns from the side of teachers or parents who may report on the suspicious behavior of children. Consequently, this measure will require federal or state support with the aim to get appropriate funding and employ professional staff of mental health care in all schools.
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Finally, the US and state authorities should maintain control over the content of media that is available for children. It is evident that media censorship is not a feature of the democratic society. However, some actions should be applied at the highest level in order to motivate parents and exert more severe control over media that their children are exposed to. Thus, the US government as well as authorities of the states may introduce preventive measures and facilitate involvement of parents and their children in more useful activities than sitting in front of TV and watching thrillers. Hence, federal and state social services should work with families and ensure free access, for example, to sport events, swimming pool, gyms, or theatre that will substitute watching TV. According to the analytical data, most frequently school violence is peculiar among the youngsters who have problems with their parents or experience lack of care, love and attention from their parents (Bagalman et al., 2013). Consequently, this measure may help juveniles to become closer with their parents and get required attention. In addition, the federal and state laws may oblige parents to spend sufficient amount of time with their kids and pay attention to their problems. All parents may be required to report on the concerns and problems in their relations with children and get appropriate psychological or social assistance with the aim to avoid deviant behavior of children, as well as to prevent disposition to anger or violence.
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In addition, the researchers suggest increasing federal and state spending to create more favorable and productive environment for studying, which may be implemented by making compulsory firearm background checks and strengthening supervision of weapon possession in each state, particularly on the territory of school (Bagalman et al., 2013). The majority of states either prohibit carrying firearms on school campuses, or allow educational establishments to set their own rules restricting weapons (Bagalman et al., 2013). The researchers found that restricting law reduces risks of school shooting (Bagalman et al., 2013). Thus, states that adopted restricting laws have lower indexes of school shooting comparing to those that do not have state regulations to prevent and address cases of school violence (Bagalman et al., 2013). Moreover, the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Illinois, and Iowa have obliged educational institutions to conduct firearm background checks with the aim to prevent school violence (Bagalman et al., 2013). The scientific investigations show that these states have twice less cases of school shooting (Bagalman et al., 2013). Furthermore, requiring background checks to purchase weapon was proved to decrease risks of school shooting. The US states, which apply this measure are significantly less likely to witness school shooting (Bagalman et al., 2013). In addition, it is an efficient measure to organize federal and state supervision and control over people who possess weapons, particularly checking annually the place where a gun is saved, as family members, namely children, may easily take it.
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Schools may also facilitate prevention of school violence and shooting by developing and adopting appropriate policies, codes of conduct, disciplinary procedures and increasing control over students’ behavior on the territory of school. Thus, the majority of educational establishments tend to adopt zero tolerance policy to prevent school violence and address cases of shooting efficiently, as well as to provide safe educational environment for all students and teachers. The implementation of the policy stipulates following a range of rules and regulations in school (Heilbrun, Cornell, & Lovegrove, 2015). For example, students are forbidden to carry weapon or abuse other students and teachers (Heilbrun, Cornell, & Lovegrove, 2015). Zero tolerance policy imposes severe punishment, particularly in the form of expulsion of students who display deviant behavior, including carrying weapons, usage or distribution of drugs, smoking, expressing unmotivated anger or intolerance towards others at school (Heilbrun, Cornell, & Lovegrove, 2015). In addition, students may be expelled for minor offenses, for example, bringing toy guns, cough drops, or paper clips to schools (Heilbrun, Cornell, & Lovegrove, 2015). The researchers consider zero tolerance policy an efficient measure to prevent school shooting or violence (Heilbrun, Cornell, & Lovegrove, 2015; Gass & Laughter, 2015). The penalty is imposed immediately without giving the second chance to students’ rehabilitation. Nonetheless, the policy has some drawbacks (Gass & Laughter, 2015). However, its radical character enforces discipline and makes students aware of the consequences of their misbehavior (Gass & Laughter, 2015). As a result, they will think twice while interacting with other learners, teachers, or administration about acting illegally or in an abnormal way. Nobody wants to lose chance to get education as everyone’s future directly depends on the educational background. Therefore, students face a set of rules and regulations that should be followed in schools; otherwise, the punishment is immediate and compulsory.
In addition, schools may establish restorative justice alternative disciplinary policy (RSADP). RSADP is contrary to zero tolerance policy, particularly in a way of preventing school violence. Gass and Laughter (2015) propose RSADP as an alternative to zero-tolerance policy. RSADP stipulates formulation of certain rules that should be followed in school and relate to students’ discipline. Furthermore, RSADP contains specific guide to address cases of school violence, students’ misbehavior, conflicts, or even shooting. According to Fronius, Persson, Guckenburg, Hurley, and Petrosino (2016), a major advantage of RSADP is its practice to manage abnormal behavior by mutual efforts of parents, school administration, teachers, representatives of community, as well as to analyze consequences, help students to fix mistakes, and prevent further expression of violence. Moreover, Gass and Laughter (2015) state that development and implementation of RSADP in school contribute to the reduction of school violence along with misbehavior and have referrals to the criminal justice systems due to a complex approach.
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Typical RSADP within educational establishment demands the participation of numerous stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents, school administration, social workers, psychologists, and community representatives, who strive to address discipline matters at school and cases of violence, as well as to adopt appropriate preventive measures. Although RSADP can be implemented in different ways, it is characterized by the unifying principles. Thus, all stakeholders and involved parties analyze the causes of students’ misbehavior and the measures to avoid and prevent possible events (Mongan & Walker, 2012). Consequently, students can rely on the support of school administration, psychologists and community representatives. Therefore, RSADP is an efficient strategy to disallow school violence and establish reliable as well as loyal relationships with students, their teachers, school administrations, and the society.
Furthermore, current researches have provided considerable reasons for educational establishments to implement conflict management with the aim to prevent severe consequences of school conflicts, particularly school violence or shooting. The research of Ghaffar, Zaman, and Naz (2012) proves that conflict management in school facilitates students’ emotional and social development. According to Henkin and Holliman (2009), conflict management includes the basic strategies and ways of the problem-solving process on the basis of decision-making. Besides, conflict management induces teachers, students, and school administration to handle and settle conflicts using critical thinking (Doğan, 2016). Thus, it contributes to the improvement of students’ accountability and empathy, emotional awareness, along with perspective-taking abilities (Doğan, 2016). In addition, students and teachers become more responsible for their actions (Kapusuzoglu, 2010). Finally, conflict management reduces aggressive and hostile circumstances, as well as facilitates tolerant behaviors (Kapusuzoglu, 2010).
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The conflict management may be implemented in schools by means of specific trainings for teachers, students, parents, and school administration. Moreover, some trainings may be directly incorporated by teachers in the studying processes of different subjects such as writing, speech, music, math, health, art, reading, language arts, physical education, social studies, or science (Doğan, 2016). Hence, trainings may be conducted in the form of situational discussion, experiment, application of problem-solving models etc. (Doğan, 2016). Many US schools have established conflict management taking into consideration its numerous advantages (Doğan, 2016). Therefore, conflict management provides for addressing and resolving of disagreements at schools, as well as prevents severe consequences that may cause school shooting.
Finally, supervision at schools may be improved by the establishment of the school safety board that will include a broad range of stakeholders, for example school administrators, social workers, parents, teachers, students, and community members. The school safety board may conduct systematic and recurrent assessment of the school’s needs by collecting regular data. It may create a comprehensive plan based on a complex strategy to develop and maintain a peaceful environment by introducing prevention activities. In addition, the board may provide constant supervision of students’ behavior during classes and on the territory of school. The school safety board will facilitate establishment of favorable and safe environment for studying and balance a necessity for security with the school’s primary mission to educate and promote students’ wellbeing.
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