Letter to the Editor: Oakville Student Challenges School Safety Measures

This is an important conversation that the community needs to have, says Oakville High School junior Daniel Carter.


The following letter to the editor was submitted by Daniel Carter, a student at Oakville High School:

In light of the tragedy in Connecticut, it took no student or teacher by surprise when Mrs. Kellerman, our principal, came over the intercom and explained new safety procedures that the school would be implementing. What I fail to see is how these new precautions will stop a determined killer? Locking the doors, buzzing in, and preventing students from having backpacks at school are plenty inconvenient and may even give the illusion of safety, but how much safer are we? 

Locking doors and buzzing visitors in is great, until that visitor is toting an AR-15, a gun which is more than capable of blowing the handle off of a door. That's assuming the threat is coming from outside the school, so to counter threats from students the district would say, "To prevent the concealment of weapons, backpacks are no longer permitted at school." That makes no sense at all. When you walk into Oakville there are no metal detectors, no one is searching you. You could put whatever you wanted in your pockets, but I won't continue naming different scenarios in which the district's attempt at safety would be ineffective because it would turn a legitimate opinion into a bunch of complaints. 

What the district and the world need to realize is that the only way to prevent these kinds of tragedies is to identify those who are more likely to make irrational decisions. Mental illness, be it depression, schizophrenia, MPD, etc., is a constant in virtually all mass shootings, and murders in general. Of course, it goes without saying that many people who have these conditions lead perfectly normal and productive lives, and I'm certainly not saying we should boot these folks about of school, but the school has a responsibility to notice abnormal behavior, report it, and see that students get help. Once a would-be killer decides they want to go guns blazing into a school, it's far too late, and no number of safety procedures, short of having armed guards everywhere, is going to stop them. 

Mehlville School District, don't implement "knee-jerk" polices, let me bring my backpack to school. Don't focus on stopping a threat from getting inside. A school is a school, not an impenetrable fortress. You're way too late at that point. Focus on getting at-risk individuals the help they need. Focus on keeping an eye out for strange behavior in everyone. Focus on getting rid of the problem, not damage control.   

We mourn those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary, and I challenge the Mehlville School District to take a new approach at preventing the worst. 

Daniel Carter
Oakville High School 

DISCLAIMER: No opinion is perfect or set in stone, mine is certainly not stagnant. Please, if there is something I missed or something you think is off key, comment. This is an important conversation that the community needs to have.

Gene Kelley December 22, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Well said Daniel Carter!
Christine Stewart Mehigh December 22, 2012 at 03:38 PM
It is my understanding that backpacks were not wanted on the Friday of finals due to unfounded rumors that were circulating. It was a proactive response to try to mitigate the rumors, that was all. I do agree that mental health should take a front seat in our safety planning, good ideas there Daniel.
dawn December 22, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Daniel, very well said!!! It's absolutely necessary to get to the true root of the cause - mental illnesses. Thank you, Daniel, for speaking up and not taking a back seat about this like most do!!
Lindsay Toler December 22, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I also wanted to compliment Daniel on his letter. Thanks for being part of the dialogue!
Pam Gordon December 23, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Well said Daniel. Let's have the tough conversations. Let's do what it really takes to keep our precious babies safe. You provide hope for your generation. You are the ones who can make a difference.


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