Moran: It’s Time to Prioritize Student Safety


“Utah schools need to remain safe, and hopefully, it will inspire the rest of the country to follow.” (Photo by Victoria Hills | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Serena Moran


In recent years, American schools have endured many school shootings. From the sunny California coast to the bright lights of New York, parents now have another reason to worry for their children when they leave home. Schools in the United States have dealt with many issues in the past, and our goal should always be to find ways to prevent them in the future. Representative Craig Hall has introduced H.B. 111 in the Utah Legislature, which would require an officer or law enforcement agency to notify a school district that a minor is under investigation for a violent felony or weapons offense. This bill would ultimately benefit Utah schools. Far too many tragedies in the United States have taken lives and affected entire families and communities. Taking the precaution of knowing the criminal charges of students attending schools can help prevent incidents and keep students and faculty safe.

Other cities in the United States already have laws similar to H.B. 111. The Teachers Association in Long Beach has enforced a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail if a faculty member is aware of a student’s criminal offense but does not inform the school. The reason this penalty is in place is to keep students and other members of the faculty safe. Unsafe conditions include a person causing, threatening to cause or attempting to cause any physical danger to another student. This danger may also include damage to school property and selling firearms, knives or other dangerous weapons. Utah should follow in suit by allowing police officers to investigate and inform educators so they can remain focused on teaching.

There has been plenty of research that could help schools in the United States stop shootings and other acts of violence. A couple of ideas include universal background checks for obtaining a firearm, implementing active shooter drills and having students, teachers and faculty report suspicious acts. Gun reforms can resolve problems outside the school and impact the behavior inside of schools also. Many tragedies could have been prevented if red flags had been recognized and addressed before it was too late. Catching red flags and reporting them can save people from injuries or death.

These solutions are much more preferable than some other proposed solutions, such as providing teachers with firearms. Providing firearms would increase gun usage and may cause many educators discomfort. Experts also worry that enforcing active school shooter drills may be traumatic for students because drills of this sort can trigger highly emotional responses.

The students under investigation for criminal actions would not be discriminated against by other students for their charges, as the bill does not state that the entire school will be informed. This bill would help educators and other faculty members understand the students who may need additional help with other underlying issues. This bill does not suggest that every student under investigation will commit more violent actions. However, it is a way to possibly provide more protection to the other students. It is worth the little extra work if it means additional safety for others.

The shootings within Utah are lower in comparison to other states. Reguardless, the media has encouraged caution within schools. Precautions like this may seem over the top, but if a loved one was the next victim, it may seem like not enough efforts have been taken. At the end of the day, the safety of students and faculty members is the most important matter within schools. Providing criminal investigation information to schools can play a role in ensuring the safety of those within the building. Small steps in the right direction are what will ultimately lead us to larger changes. The legislature should pass H.B. 111 because it has the potential to provide invaluable benefits. Utah schools need to remain safe, and hopefully, it will inspire the rest of the country to follow.


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