Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
In a move that is drawing a variety of opinions from people on every side of the debate over gun violence, the American Academy of Pediatrics appealed to Congress this month to pass legislation that includes an assault weapon ban, mandatory background checks and waiting periods before all firearm purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazines, handgun regulations and requirements for safe firearm storage under federal law. NBC News has more:
“I think we can be honest brokers,” says Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director for child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals, part of Case Western Reserve University’s school of medicine in Cleveland.
“We have to have a collectively louder voice,” Dr. Danielle Laraque, who chairs the pediatrics department at Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn, told a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. “What we need is a call to action, to really look at how we can change public policy that is not often affected by data.”
They don’t always get a friendly reception. Just two weeks before the doctors arrived, Congress had scuttled what gun-control advocates had considered a modest bill to expand background checks for gun sales.
Congress had already dropped a wider measure pushed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden after the December shootings of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn.
Image: Gun trigger, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Among the myriad worried questions that raced through the nation’s mind in the immediate aftermath of the twin explosions that rocked the Boston Marathon Monday was–are the Newtown families ok? Some family members of the 26 children who died in the December mass school shooting were seated in a VIP section at the marathon’s finish line, and six family members ran the race as a team. Fortunately, according to news reports, all were safe and accounted for, as Yahoo News reports:
Victims of the Newtown, Conn., massacre were also honored along the course with a special marker at the 26th mile.
That marker was not far from where a pair of bombs exploded, killing three people and wounding 144 others. But while some of the families of the Newtown victims were reportedly seated in a VIP area near the finish line, none were reported injured.
Six runners ran the race as part of Team NewtownSTRONG, a scholarship fund benefiting the siblings of the victims from Sandy Hook Elementary School—with each mile dedicated to a different victim.
“In the first 20 miles, we’re honoring the 20 Sandy Hook first-graders [who were killed],” Laura Nowacki, a spokesperson for Newtown Strong, told WBUR radio before the race. “When we crest Heartbreak Hill and we’re coming back towards Boston, we run the final six for our six fallen educators.”
According to a post on the group’s Facebook page, all six finished the race before the bombings and were not among the victims.
“I just got a text message from one of our runners letting me know that they are all safe,” the post read.
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Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Schools are increasingly debating the value of “zero tolerance” policies of suspending students who make threats in even the most unassuming ways. In the wake of the tragic Newtown, Connecticut school shooting late last year, some parents are jittery and want school officials to enforce the zero tolerance policy. Others, however believe that the policies discourage children from finding healthy ways to express anger. More from The Associated Press:
The extent to which the Newtown, Conn., shooting might influence educators’ disciplinary decisions is unclear. But parents contend administrators are projecting adult fears onto children who know little about the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators, and who certainly pose no threat to anyone.
‘‘It’s horrible what they’re doing to these kids,’’ said Kelly Guarna, whose 5-year-old daughter, Madison, was suspended by Mount Carmel Area School District in eastern Pennsylvania last month for making a ‘‘terroristic threat’’ with the bubble gun. ‘‘They’re treating them as mini-adults, making them grow up too fast, and robbing them of their imaginations.’’
Mary Czajkowski, superintendent of Barnstable Public Schools in Hyannis, Mass., acknowledged that Sandy Hook has teachers and parents on edge. But she defended Hyannis West Elementary School’s warning to a 5-year-old boy who chased his classmates with a gun he’d made from plastic building blocks, saying the student didn’t listen to the teacher when she told him repeatedly to stop.
The school told his mother if it happened again, he’d face a two-week suspension.
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‘‘Given the heightened awareness and sensitivity, we must do all that we can to ensure that all students and adults both remain safe and feel safe in schools,’’ Czajkowski said in a statement. ‘‘To dismiss or overlook an incident that results in any member of our school community feeling unsafe or threatened would be irresponsible and negligent.’’
Image: School sign, via Shutterstock
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
The families of those who were killed in the December mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut held a news conference Monday to announce a violence prevention initiative they are organizing to prevent future tragedies like those their families endured. More on “Sandy Hook Promise” from The New York Times:
In some of their first public statements since the shooting, which killed 20 children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the families of 11 of the victims called for a national dialogue on issues of mental health, school safety and what their nonprofit group, called Sandy Hook Promise, described as “gun responsibility.”
The gathering came as President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepared to unveil gun-control proposals as soon as Tuesday that are expected to call for a ban on the kind of assault weapon and high-capacity ammunition magazines used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown shooting.
But perhaps foreshadowing the difficult and contentious debates to come in Washington, group members declined to offer support for any specific measures, saying they needed time to educate themselves on the issues, and emphasizing that the debate must be broader than gun control.
“It’s only been 30 days, and for the past 30 days we’ve really been looking inward and supporting our community,” said Tim Makris, a founder of the group who had a fourth-grade son at the school, who was not hurt.
“We love the focus of the president,” he added, “and we love that the vice president reached out recently to talk directly to the families that chose to meet with him. But we don’t have an immediate response right now.”
Tom Bittman, another founder, who has children who previously attended the school, said that many of the group members were gun owners.
“We hunt, we target shoot,” he said. “We protect our homes. We’re collectors. We teach our sons and daughters how to use guns safely. We’re not afraid of a national conversation in our community and in Congress about responsibility and accountability. We know there are millions of people in this nation who agree with us.”
The news conference, which included other members of the Newtown community, was the first time a group of Sandy Hook families spoke publicly about the tragedy.
Image: News microphone, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 20th, 2012
School officials across the country are contemplating the horrific events of last week’s shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and asking the question, how can we keep our schools safe? Parents tend to have very strong opinions on the broader question of whether teachers should ever be armed. But a more measured question–whether schools should hire armed security guards–is capturing more attention as the days unfold. The debate is playing out across social media, across dinner tables, and, as The New York Times reports, among school board members nationwide:
“Across the country, some 23,200 schools — about one-third of all public schools — had armed security staff in the 2009-10 school year, the most recent year for which data are available.
Now, in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, school officials across the nation are reviewing security protocols, including lockdown drills and building entry procedures, but also whether to hire more armed guards.
These questions arise amid a broader political and societal debate about gun control. While some people view the prospect of bringing additional guns into schools as fueling a culture of violence, others say children need the protection.
On Sunday, a former education secretary, William J. Bennett, indicated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would support such measures. “I’m not so sure I wouldn’t want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing,” said Mr. Bennett, who served under President Ronald Reagan.
With national sentiment starting to move in favor of stricter gun laws, Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan vetoed a bill on Tuesday that state lawmakers had passed just a day before the shootings in Newtown, allowing registered gun owners to carry concealed weapons in schools. But also on Tuesday, a legislator in South Carolina introduced a similar bill that would allow school employees to carry guns in schools.
The question of whether to place trained security guards with guns in schools is left up to local districts. These officers are charged with protecting students not just from intruders but also from each other. They often conduct classes in preventing gang violence or bullying, as well as handle more prosaic tasks like issuing traffic tickets.
According to the Council of the Great City Schools, cities including Albuquerque, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and St. Louis have armed officers in schools, either contracting with local police forces or recruiting their own dedicated security staff. Other cities, including Boston and New York, place unarmed security officers in schools. Sandy Hook Elementary did not have a security guard on campus.”
Image: School hallway, via Shutterstock
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