Stabbing incident another indication of dangers in our schools

Jeff Neal

It's frightening to think your child may not be safe at school.

We read about it almost weekly, it seems -- some nut with a gun shoots people at a high school or a college campus.

The school-shooting epidemic touched Kentucky last year when two students were killed and 14 more injured at Marshall County High.

This January, a student was arrested when he brought a gun to Pulaski County High School. Relatives said the boy was being bullied and brought the gun as protection.

On Wednesday, a Pulaski County High student was stabbed by a second student over a can of dip, for goodness sakes.

Then on Thursday, the Commonwealth Journal received calls saying another knife had been confiscated at PCHS -- just one day removed from a kid being stabbed.

Pulaski Schools Superintendent Patrick Richardson confirmed a "pocket knife" had been recovered but added "there was no incident."

Several parents have expressed concern that the county's one-call system wasn't utilized on Thursday to inform them that a knife had once again been brought onto school grounds.

One parent picked up his child because she said she didn't feel safe at school.

Where is the line drawn between a parents' right to know what's going on at their kid's school, and something that is a "non-incident" that isn't worth bothering people with? It's a tough call, I suppose, but I'm of the opinion that more information is better than less.

What can be done about school violence and the threat of weapons being brought onto school grounds?

That's a difficult question.

And it's not like school safety hasn't been front and center with school officials in Kentucky -- particularly since the Marshall County tragedy.

Pulaski County High has a School Resource Officer who made the arrest of a suspect in the stabbing incident on Wednesday. He's not only much-needed; he's a Godsend, as are all SROs who help protect our children in the Pulaski and Somerset school systems. But a single officer can't prevent kids from bringing knives or guns into the school. At PCHS, there's one SRO and 1,000 kids. He can't search them all.

Is a metal detector feasible?

One, it's costly. And two, it would be time-consuming to run kids through a metal detector before classes begin. But many schools have gone to these measures because of incidents similar to what has happened at PCHS this week.

Better safe, than sorry.

If metal detectors are not feasible here, then what can school officials do, other than to let us know when there has been a breach?

It's certainly time for all of us who have kids in the Pulaski School System to look toward our school leaders for assurances and detailed planning on preventative measures. Maybe a town hall type meeting would be in order? An exchange of ideas can sometimes be very productive.

And, please, this is not to say that local school officials are to blame for these incidents. They're not -- they just have to deal with the fallout.

At the heart of the problem are parents and guardians who haven't got a clue what their kids are up to and what they may be bringing to school. Parents have to do a better job. There's no doubt about it.

One thing is certain -- we can no longer believe these horrible things just happen in urban areas with a heavy volume of "at-risk youth."

We now need to consider all school children "at risk" of being injured when they're supposed to be learning. And that's just heart-breaking.

JEFF NEAL is the Commonwealth Journal Editor. He can be reached at jneal@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jnealCJ.