Locals weigh in on potential school safety measures

"We all say we hope and pray it doesn't come here, but the truth of the matter is it's going to visit us one day we just have to be prepared for it," says Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis. 

Yet another school shooting happened this week. This time it wasn't in Florida or somewhere else, it happened right here in the state of Maryland.

It's yet another heartbreaking incident that no parent, child, student, or community wants to ever face, but it's one that too many are.
   
Dr. Kathryn Seifert, the CEO for Eastern Shore Psychological Services, says, "We all need to get together and figure out what we need to do to change the trend. The trend is more frequent and we want it to go down." 

School safety now in the limelight across the country and here locally. In Annapolis, Gov. Larry Hogan introducing The Safe Schools Act Of 2018. It's emergency legislation that would establish the Safe Schools Fund.

Money that would go towards more school resource officers, something that is desperately needed across the state and even in Wicomico County.

Currently, there's ten deputies in county schools. 
  
"We have 24 schools here in Wicomico County and it is difficult to logistically cover where we're going to put these school resource deputies to maximize the safety of our students," explains Lewis. 

The Safe Schools Fund won't just increase the SROs, it's also focusing on bringing in mental health counselors into schools.

It's a vital part in shifting this trend of violence in our schools, according to psychiatrist Doctor Kathryn Seifert. 

"These shooters come from a trauma background and if you have mental health folks in the school who can spot that and get them the right treatment we really could prevent a lot of these from happening, maybe not every one, but one is good I'll settle for one," says Seifert. 

And having that type of resource for students in schools is something that Dr. Seifert says will not just shift this trend of violence in the right direction, but also continue breaking the stigma associated with mental illness. 

"If we get to the point where school counselors are as regular in the schools, mental health counselors are as regular as the guidance counselor, the teacher, the lady in the cafeteria, the SRO officer than we can reduce the anxiety people have about asking for help," explains Seifert. 

Sheriff Mike Lewis says they've already put a request in for five additional school resource deputies for next year. 

Dr. Seifert says adding both mental health counselors and SROs is a huge step forward. Adding it creates a group of teachers, students, counselors and SROs that will all work together, something that is necessary for change.

Seifert tells 47 ABC that students are an integral part in shifting the latest trend of violence in schools. Students should be inclusive, asking that one shy classmate to sit with you at lunch..

It creates an environment where students are more willing to share their feelings. With that the term 'see something, say something' comes into play and we can start to prevent these incidents from happening. 

"So you have a group, an interagency group of people that know these kids and can refer them to the kind to help they need so we don't get to the point where children are getting killed and injured." 

Both Seifert and Sheriff Lewis believe funding for these resources should be a priority, in order to ensure the safety of our children in schools. 

Categories: Local News, Maryland

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