Dear BCS Community,
A few weeks have passed since the school shooting in Parkland. I do not know the appropriate time frame necessary for emotions to ease and reasoned approaches to the calamity of another school shooting can be undertaken. The loss of a young life to cancer or a car accident is a tragedy. To lose so many at the hands of someone who months before had walked the same hallways is particularly abhorrent. And always, our thoughts turn to our own loved ones, and for those of us in school leadership, to the many students and staff for whom we have a duty to care.
Perhaps it is small comfort to note that school shootings are rare. Northeastern University researcher James Alan Fox and doctoral student Emma Fridel found that on average, mass murders occur between 20 and 30 times per year, and about one of those incidents on average takes place at a school. “There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” Fox said, adding that more kids are killed each year from pool drownings or bicycle accidents. (Jalani, Zaid. 2018, March 1. The Intercept: School shootings have declined dramatically since the 1990s. Does it really make sense to militarize schools?)
It is not outrageous to suggest that the negative impact of social media on teens poses a much more ominous threat to the health of our students than gun violence at school, but if you’re the victim of a school shooting your story makes the national media. If you are in despair because no one is liking your posts, you likely remain anonymous.
The reality is we have a responsibility to look at both. All three of our campuses were built when school security was not a factor in their design. Our students are all iGeners, susceptible to increased rates of depression and suicide from the more insidious aspects of social media. Assault weapons are designed to kill people. Social media is designed to be addictive. Both can have severe consequences when misused.
Recently I was part of a group that toured the Clyde Hill campus with security risk management consultants. We certainly have some security vulnerabilities and there is some “low hanging fruit” we will begin implementing over the next few weeks. BCS will contract for a more formal security review of all three campuses and then assess which changes make sense in light of the risk.
We are also continuing discussions about the wisdom of unlimited access to cell phones during the school day. Dr. Jean Twenge’s powerful presentation has many in our community asking important questions about long-term impact of ubiquitous smartphone use.
We live in a world tainted by sin. The events at Parkland certainly make that clear. But we also live under the rule of a loving Creator-God who sent His only Son to redeem humanity from its brokenness. We need to bring light to the darkness. In a world filled with threats, we can access “the peace that passes all understanding.” We can live a life without fear, knowing the God is ultimately in control.
In his service,
Kevin M. Dunning