LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– All this week, teachers, school administrators, officers, and counselors were among the hundreds of people in Las Vegas for a conference on student safety.
One of the topics discussed was an increase in deadly school shootings this year.
The Student, Safety, and Security Conference took place at the Palms Casino Resort, it began on Wednesday and ended Friday. Professionals from all 50 states were represented there.
Some experts said there must be a new approach to student safety. It can no longer be focused on adding more school resource officers and security cameras or even arming teachers.
Christopher Claw was one of the 300 education professionals who traveled to the conference. He’s a safety coordinator at a Navajo Nation school district.
“For our district, the potential is there. The prevention is there. Now, it’s just preparing our students and staff to respond and react to the situation,” Claw, the safety coordinator at Kayenta Unified School District in Arizona, said.
Claw said there aren’t many resources available on the reservation. Counselors who help students plan for college or careers may also have to help children with problems they’re facing at home.
“So when kids come to school, they’re safe. They feel safe. They want to be safe,” Claw said.
Lillette Campbell is the principal of the Bridges Academy, a small private school in Washington, D.C.
While she has not dealt with a serious incident yet, she wants to be prepared.
“It doesn’t mean that something like a school shooter or any of these other things cannot come up,” Campbell said. “We’ve been very, very fortunate. But at some point, your luck may run out, so we need to be prepared.”
Dr. Stephen Sroka, an expert on school safety, said he’s bringing a new approach to this issue.
Sroka advocates for a way that relies less on the “hardware” and more on what he labels as the “heartware.”
“Once you can get to the heart, you can get to the head, and that’s what I think is important,” Sroka said. He’s an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
Sroka added that schools can no longer prevent shootings, all they can do is reduce the risk of one.
“You cannot legislate this problem away. You can’t put a bunch of officers in the school and make it go away, We have to have a bigger comprehensive approach to it,” he said.
According to experts, more than 90 percent of school shooters told a family member or friend of their plans.
A statistic they said proves why it’s important to take these issues seriously.