Boru: Our schools are becoming prisons

Installing metal detectors only adds to the problem.

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by Luul Boru

School shootings in the United States are an epidemic. Unless we pluck this disease out by its roots, band-aiding it will just tear it open.

There have been 27 school shootings so far in 2022. These tragedies seem common, and yet we are always surprised to hear of yet another mass shooting. I pray we don’t get desensitized to human lives being reduced to nothing by gun violence.

It’s imperative that we take action to avoid future violence, but some proposed solutions are more productive than others. Metal detectors can’t — and don’t — prevent school shootings. Instead, they have a negative impact on students and staff. Imagine going to school where the norm is passing through metal detector doors, with armed officers and cameras at every corner. I would not be able to learn anything at all from fear and anxiety — common feelings among students from such schools. This fear could then lead to more violence because militarized learning environments can make school feel like a prison.

There are no studies that suggest metal detector doors actually work. Regardless, they are more prevalent in urban schools with greater populations of students of color.

A case from here in Minnesota demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these doors. In 2005, a student at Red Lake High School managed to shoot and kill the security guard operating his school’s metal detector. He was then able to walk directly through the metal detector with three weapons and kill seven people.

These upgrades and security equipment are not only counterproductive but expensive. We need to set our priorities straight.

Instead of resorting to such costly and ineffective techniques, we should study the psychology of these shooters and learn the tell-tale signs of future shooters in order to provide help and intervention for students.

Our students need help and counseling. They need to feel like they have a second family at school that takes care of them and cares about their well-being. If we treat them like prisoners, we will have students running around with semi-automatics looking to settle a score.

Maybe the students that commit these acts feel ignored, mistreated and hated, and that becomes a reason enough for them to arm up and take innocent lives.

We need to invest in our schools and build a stronger support system where all students — regardless of their home situations — can get the help they need.