Michigan tragedy should serve as a warning to parents, school officials in York County

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
  • A school shooting in Michigan recently left four dead and six wounded.
  • The parents of the 15-year-old boy arrested in the shooting have also been charged.
  • School officials could also be charged in the case for their lack of action.
A parent hugs a child as others come to pick up students from the Meijer store in Oxford, Mich., following an active shooter situation at Oxford High School in Oxford, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Police took a suspected shooter into custody and there were multiple victims, the Oakland County Sheriff's office said. (Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press via AP)

Today, we have a simple plea.

We are asking every parent and every school official in York County to pay close attention to what has transpired over the last week in Oxford Township, Michigan.

There are vital lessons to be learned from the tragedy there and we must not miss the opportunity to take heed.

Maybe, just maybe, if folks in these parts do some serious self-examination, we can avoid a similar senseless act of violence here.

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The news from Michigan seems to indicate that there’s plenty of blame to go around for the shooting allegedly by a troubled 15-year-old boy that left four students dead and six more wounded.

The parents in the case are rightly being prosecuted for their alleged actions in giving their troubled teen the gun he allegedly used to commit the murders. School officials may also get charged for their reported lack of action, despite some alarming warning signs.

Still, we’re not all that interested in the blame game. The prosecutors in Michigan will take care of that.

What we are interested in, however, is what we can do to make sure something similar doesn’t happen in York County.

Gun safety: No. 1, if you are a parent, and a gun owner, make absolutely sure that the gun, or guns, in your home is/are secure at all times.

Young children should never have access to the weapons, nor should older children who have any kind of criminal or mental-health history.

Older children who do have access to guns, such as hunters, must be educated on the proper way to handle a weapon and be informed of the dire consequences that can come from the cavalier operation of a gun.

Look for warning signs: No. 2, every parent and school official should look out for the warning signs that the children in their charge may be contemplating violent acts, either to themselves or to others.

In Michigan, those signs seem to have been overlooked, with tragic consequences.

If a child gives any indication of violent tendencies, parents and school officials need to react swiftly and diligently.

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Don’t just assume that a kid is simply acting out, with no real intention of following through on the threat. Every threat must be taken seriously.

Proper protocols: No. 3, school officials need to review their protocols for handling such situations.

Is everyone in every school building educated on the warning signs? Do they know how to act and who to contact if they see troubling behavior? Do they know what to do if the unthinkable occurs and shots are fired within a school building?

The answer to each of those questions must be an emphatic yes.

It’s happened here: We can’t turn a blind eye and say it could never happen here, because it has happened here.

In 2003, Red Lion Area Junior High School principal Eugene Segro was shot by a 14-year-old student, who then turned the gun on himself.

The Red Lion school district was also the site of a machete attack on a kindergarten class that wounded 11 children, the principal, and two teachers at Winterstown Elementary School in February 2001.

Those acts are just part of a nationwide cycle of school violence that shows no signs of abating. Michigan was just the latest sad chapter.

Given our history, we must be prepared here in York County to take every step necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again.