LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It’s hard to ignore the gun violence happening in Arkansas and around the country.
“We have a history in our state of these types of incidents,” Director of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute Cheryl May said.
It’s gotten to a point where some parents of young students are worried about their school’s safety.
“I think we’ve really become desensitized to how awful the acts really are,” Craig Boes said.
Bose is the father of three students in the Little Rock School District.
“They need to be able to feel like they can come to school to learn and play with their friends and not have to worry about what might happen,” Boes added.
Monday, Arkansas state legislators met to discuss old and new ways to prevent school shootings and ensure safety.
“We’ve been working on school safety for a very long time,” May stated.
There were 30 recommendations given by May and other speakers recapping actions that have been in place since 2018. However, some of those measures need to be improved like providing a student resource officer for every school campus.
“Recommendation two is, if financially practical, schools should have at least one SRO for each campus,” May said.
Currently, only 20% of Arkansas campuses have an SRO.
When it comes to guns, school districts in Arkansas are allowed commission school security officers. More specifically, school faculty can carry a gun on campus after 60 hours of training and getting certified through the Arkansas state police.
“All the state police have told me that this is a very viable program,” May said.
Other recommendations that all schools have are:
- Control access to school buildings during school hours.
- Require visitors to sign in or check-in and wear badges.
- Equip classroom doors with locks so doors can be locked from the inside.
- Campuses have a single-entry point for main campus buildings.
- District campuses have any bullet-related/anti-shatter-resistant glass and walls at reception desk check-in.
Dr. Nikki Edge of UAMS said that in August of 2021 they provided Arkansas school districts with a training program called ‘Trauma Resource Initiative for Schools (TRIS).
This program wants to prepare for, respond to, and recover from traumatic events for school members.
Even though schools can’t guarantee total safety, some parents are still confident their children will be protected.
“I still feel that school is one of the safest places in the world for them to be,” Boes said.