BY Liz Kalfayan
On Feb. 11 in the Martire Theater, a film by Kate Way was presented with a panel afterwards. The film was called, “G is for Gun: The Arming of America’s Teachers.”
According to the film, the number of mass shootings in schools has been on the rise since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Due to the increase of school shootings, training programs for teachers to be able to combat an armed attacker by shooting a gun have also been on the rise.
“When I heard about it in the news about a year after the Sandy Hook shooting I was just shocked,” said Kate Way, producer of the film. “The more I researched, the more shocked I became.”
The film followed a school district in Ohio and showed individuals who were in favor of arming public school teachers as well as those who were against the arming of teachers. The film took about three years to make and was completed in 2018.
Security protocols in schools have increased because of the fear that an armed individual is going to enter the school.
“I think they’re starting the security measures younger,” said junior Beth Turello.
“Many well-intended people are doing the best they can to ensure that their children are kept safe at school,” said Dr. Michael Alfano, Dean of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education, and a member of the panel. “I think that their efforts, though well-intended, have any number of unintended consequences that will be realized in the days to come.”
It was said in the film that the list of demands expected of a teacher keeps growing and the teacher is expected to be a problem solver. Teachers signed up to be teachers and not to have to shoot a gun if a problem arises.
“Teachers are under enough stress as it is without adding the weight of a gun in their classroom,” said Dr. Jillian Schreffler, professor within the College of Education.
There should be a closer look at the reasons why there is a growing number of school shootings and trying to prevent them from happening instead of what would happen if they were to occur, according to the panelists.
“I’d like people to think about the root cause of why we’re even having this discussion… easy access to guns, desensitization to violence in our culture, a national mental health crisis,” said Alfano.
Way had said that students who are currently in college wanting to be a teacher someday are very aware of the world they live in and the profession they are entering. The topic of guns is on the minds of students just entering the profession.
Junior Maria Grazia Scarano wants to be an elementary school teacher after graduation and is currently in the Five-Year Education Program at Sacred Heart. Scarano is not in favor of having guns accessible to teachers.
“There are other ways to protect the kids in a classroom better,” said Scarano.
“I think more of an emphasis needs to be placed on mental health in schools,” said Schreffler. “Teachers are the first line of defense in these situations. Teachers need to be aware of the mental health of their students to hopefully prevent situations like this.”
For more information about mental health issues you can contact the Counseling Center located in the Maureen Hamilton Wellness Center, 203-371-7955. For safety concerns, contact Public Safety at 203-371-7995 for a non-emergency and 203-371-7911 for an emergency.