Ways to keep kids safe during the school day drew more than 75 community members to a forum Monday at Highland Baptist Church in Redmond.
The discussion was the second this month on the topic. The first was organized by a Redmond mother with a three-pronged proposal to protect schools from violence.
The forum Monday night was organized by the Redmond Patriots, with a panel composed of Redmond School District Superintendent Mike McIntosh; a behavior health counselor at St. Charles, Hope Storey; Redmond Mayor George Endicott; and Redmond Police Chief Dave Tarbet.
The first forum centered primarily on deterrents to school violence; the discussion Monday focused more on the social ills that led to extreme violence against students and teachers.
Mandi Puckett, the mother of three children in the Redmond School District, shared her ideas with the school board in January and with the Patriots earlier this month. She proposed several measures, from restricted access to schools and classrooms to education on bullying, empathy and defense training.
Puckett also advocates for better awareness and treatment for mental health.
She suggests that, in the event that trained law enforcement personnel are not available for every school, armed volunteers be trained in crisis management and use of deadly force with a firearm.
Removing the standard gun-free policies in all schools is another component of Puckett’s school safety proposal, a suggestion that has McIntosh worried.
“As a student at Redmond High School I typically had two guns in my truck and they were usually loaded,” he said in an interview prior to Monday’s meeting. “But times have changed and I’d never support that now.”
McIntosh sees the incidents of theft, accidents and purposeful violence increasing exponentially if guns were allowed on school campuses and isn’t convinced that enforcement is the true answer to preventing tragic school shootings.
“I’m on a personal campaign, that it’s not protection we need as much as prevention,” said McIntosh, who is the father of three children. “I’d like to change a cultural norm where we train little itty-bitty kids to kill people on violent video games; we’re training them to be abusive and violent towards others. When I was young we all had BB guns but we were flogged if we pointed it at a person. We’ve gone so far away from that that kids are taught if you kill someone you just hit the reset button and shoot them again.”
Bill Layton, a hunting safety instructor for youth in Redmond, agreed with McIntosh. Referring to multiple comments from the audience and panel about the increasing detachment of today’s young people via electronics, he proposed an idea: Take them away.
“In my classes kids know the rules: devices don’t come out or I confiscate them,” he said to applause. “When I returned from Vietnam I was spit on by people raising kids on drugs and alcohol. We’re living with the consequences of a generation that gave up control of their kids.”
Storey shared stories with the audience of kids “imprinted” with their uncensored exposure to harmful media — television, the Internet, pornography — and the seeming lack of controls parents are wielding over that influence.