A reader's proposal

On Sept. 6, students in Uvalde, Texas, returned to school for the first time since 19 children and two educators were killed on what ended up being their last day of school on May 24. 

Unfortunately, we have a lot of data in the United States about the trauma kids endure post-school-shootings. Survivors of school shootings experience an increase in mental health issues, phobias and anxiety, suffer from survivors’ guilt, and more. 

And let’s not forget the parents who dropped their precious children off at school, not knowing that it was the last time they would ever see them. 

None of us here in Queen Creek want this to happen in our community.

On Aug. 25h, the reality that this could happen here in Queen Creek struck all too close to home when a fourth grader brought a gun onto Legacy Traditional School’s Queen Creek Campus. Six days later and 5.2 miles down the road, a student brought a 9mm gun to the Circle Cross Ranch STEM Academy campus in San Tan Valley.

The time is now to act and prevent a tragedy that over 180 schools over the last 10 years have. The following is a short list of things we can do now to prevent one of the worst, preventable tragedies from striking home.

No more backpacks

In the year 2022, the “digital age,” why do kids still need backpacks in schools? Most items can be digitally sent to students (and many assignments already are). 

Knowing how to access information digitally, complete tasks and then submit the assignments digitally will be an essential skill for the future of these kids. Why not start now?

 If there are kids who need financial help in this transition, we will have to address that, but at this point in history backpacks are unnecessary and only distance us from our goal of a weapons free, shooting free campus. A student may need a folder occasionally, but that should be all.

Metal detectors

In a recent conversation I was having with elected state official, I brought up metal detectors, and his response was “Many schools and school districts receive significant feedback from parents against placing the kind of security protocols you’re referring to in their childrens’ schools.  The sentiment is that it feels too much like a jail or courthouse and they don’t want that experience for their kids.” 

I’m not sure if that sentiment has changed, but it should. We all pass through metal detectors for many places we visit, professional sporting events and public buildings just to name a couple. 

It is normal for us. It would become normal for the kids, too. Having a friendly staff member / security guard there to greet the kids with a smile as they pass through would be a much less “negative experience” than the trauma kids would endure should they be lucky enough to survive a school shooting.

Doors with security checks

Many schools have doors that automatically close and lock already, but the practical adherence to it seems to me to be spotty. My kids range in age from 7-19 and have attended locally, a mix of charter and public schools. 

When I visit any given campus, I see gates open and sometimes doors open. My visits are sporadic at best, so if I’m seeing it on my infrequent visits, it’s safe to bet it’s happening constantly. This is an opportunity for those who would seek harm and it’s something that would be an easy opportunity to eliminate. 

 A security check should be done regularly  – at least monthly – by a third party organization to make sure that these standards are adhered to, with results made public.

Non-scalable fences

These fences should replace all current fences around playgrounds in Queen Creek schools.

There will certainly be an expense associated with implementation of these ideas, but no matter the cost, it will be a bargain compared to dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting in Queen Creek.

Abraham Boling is a Queen Creek resident.