Category General Liability and Safety Issues
Title School Mass Shooting Viewpoint: The King's Academy
Author/s Scott Meadows, Head of School
Preview School Mass Shooting Viewpoint: The King's Academy
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School Mass Shooting Viewpoint: The King's Academy
by Scott Meadows, Head of School

Demographics: Urban California school. Nine hundred fifty students in grades six-12. Independent school with its own facilities.

1. What is the school's viewpoint on or response to mass school shootings (pedagogical/theological/philosophical responses)?

The truth is that school shootings are not on the rise.1 Contrary to what has been published, we have not had 300 school shootings in the last five years. That would mean we would have had five shootings each month for the past five years. So where do these numbers come from, and why? One source, Everytown Research Group2, has listed every shooting since 2013. If one delves into their research, you will find that many of the shootings listed are suicides and many others are shots fired with no one injured. Some of those shots fired are just accidents with no intent to harm anyone. Also, it should be noted that, of those 300 shootings listed, roughly 60 percent of all fatalities have happened at colleges and universities and not at K-12 schools. It is obvious to the casual observer that the data is displayed in a way as to cause alarm and fear.

We have approximately 133,000 elementary and secondary schools in America representing over 51 million students. When you do the math, that means that 0.0000005 percent of students have been murdered at a school. Another study3 states that the students have a 1 in 2,700,000 risk of being shot and killed. (This is far less likely than the risk of being struck by lightning.) And while the death of a child is heartbreaking, the percentage of risk is hardly high enough to cause alarm. On a side note, none of these shootings listed by Everytown happened at a private Christian school, meaning the risk for serious injury at school is even less at a private Christian school.

One last study was put out by the Council for American Private Education4, and gives a student's perspective on violence at school.

Percentage of students, age 12-18, who in 2011 reported...

Public

Private

having experienced violent victimization at, or on the way to/from, school

4

2

seeing hate-related graffiti at, or on the way to/from, school

30

13

fearing being attacked or harmed at, or on the way to/from, school

4

2

that street gangs were present at, or on the way to/from, school

19

2

that they avoided certain places in school for fear of their own safety

5

2

The facts reveal that children are extremely safe at private christian schools to the nation. I am hopeful that this brief look into the statistics of shootings will give you the peace of mind to know that God is in control. Beyond the statistical analysis, Scripture is clear that we should not give in to fear. Second Timothy 1:7 (KJV) says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

As Christians, we know that God is in control. Matthew 10 tells us that "the very hairs of your head are all numbered." And He also tells His disciples that we have more value than the sparrows, so we are not to give in to the spirit of fear. Lastly, in Matthew 6, Jesus reminds us of how His heavenly father takes fare of the lilies of the field, the birds in the air, and states how much more will He take care of us.

God loves us, and He loves your students and, ultimately, He is our Protector.

2. What measures is the school taking to address concerns over safety and a potential mass shooting (practical responses/actions taken)?

Every year we have several safety drills including a lock-down drill. In March we conducted a drill that prepares our students for an active shooter. We partner with the local police department when we practice. They send resource officers to our campus to participate with us in the drill and to give us immediate feedback on how we are doing and ways to improve.

In the last three years, we have added four gates to make the campus more secure. We have added 32 cameras than can be monitored from the front desk and operations. these cameras can help us isolate someone on campus before trouble begins. We have also changed all of the locks on our campus to cyber secure keys which are updated weekly. These keys give our classrooms more security than a normal key because we are able to limit access remotely. Lost keys are no longer an issue. Our facilities team has developed an internal lock for all of our classrooms that prevents access into a classroom without having to leave the room. Lastly, this summer we are installing a new communication system that will help us in initiating safety drills.

While we can follow all recommended safety precautions, at the heart of these issues is the troubled student. Our Spiritual Life department, deans, and principals are always monitoring the lives of our students. Because today's students have more demands than we had, we hired outside counselors two years ago to come to our campus two days a week. This year we added an extra day for our mental health counselors, and now students can go in and speak to someone on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. This may prevent a student from harming themselves and/or other students. We may never know how effective this has been, but anecdotally the parents and students using this service have found it to be extremely helpful.

Security is probably a higher priority for parents than it has been in years past, but I do have one warning that I hope schools will consider. The zeal to make schools so secure can have the unintended consequences of turning academic institutions into prisons. Locking every entry point, adding metal detectors, security cameras, and protocols which breed mistrust between the staff and everyone else on campus can cause the environment to become sterile to the point that learning suffers. Schools, college campuses, libraries, and many other institutions are public and open by nature. Treating them like war zones will make them turn into places that students will want to avoid.

You should do everything in your power to make sure your campus is secure, and there are things you can do to improve security. But remember that schools are statistically safe places and you can go overboard on some measures that yield negative consequences.


1 https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/02/19/parkland-school-shootings-not-new-normal-despite-statistics-stretching-truth-fox-column/349380002/

2 https://everytownresearch.org/school-shootings/

3 https://info.richmondalarm.com/news/are-private-schools-statistically-safer-than-public-schools

4 http://www.capenet.org/facts.html

LLU 28.3

Notice:  This article is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It has been provided to member schools with the understanding that ACSI is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional services. If legal or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Laws vary by jurisdiction, and the specific application of laws to particular facts requires the advice of an attorney.

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