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School violence is a problem we can solve

Annapolis High School students participated in the nationwide walkout to remember the victims of the Florida high school shooting and protest gun violence. Students left their classrooms for 17 minutes - one minute for every life lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Thalia Juarez / Capital Gazette)

I was inspired waking up Friday morning to Margot Deguet Delury’s commentary concerning ALICE (“BCPS student: ‘It’s surreal that we students are learning to fight for our lives at school,’” Sept. 12). It was an assault on the narrative that young people don’t care. And if we all took her words to heart, we would admit we are failing young people.

Like Margot, I too sat through ALICE training. Twice. Once as a teacher and once as a parent. As uncomfortable as the ALICE protocols make me, I applaud Baltimore County Public Schools for doing something. However, the idea that teachers and students making barricades, running, or “countering” is the best we can do should be offensive to the exceptional nature of Americans everywhere.

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ALICE is a step in the right direction. ALICE is also an admission of negligence. Fortunately, Americans don’t back down. A staple of our success is our ability to grow. School violence is a problem we can solve.

The problem isn’t with ALICE. Educators and parents understand its necessity. They aren’t ignorant. The problem is that we know how to address dangers that are killing our citizens. From fires to automobiles, we know how to take many small steps to cause slow systematic improvement.

ALICE is one small corrective step to fixing the big problem of school violence. But ALICE needs support. Alone it is completely reactionary — like a fire drill. It can help, but it will not reduce the occurrence of school violence. Yes, we must bolster our systems providing mental health services to the sick. Yes, we need to design more secure, safer schools. Yes, we need school staffs at all levels coordinating and training for these dreadful moments. And, yes, we need stricter laws concerning the sale and ownership of guns.

If you’re not convinced we need to do more than ALICE, be sure to explain that to Margot and her classmates.

Adam Sutton, Towson

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