May 21, 2018
Schools across the country are once again confronted with a horrific school shooting, this time in Santa Fe, Texas. This event has attracted our attention because of the scope of the tragedy with ten students and staff killed and over a dozen wounded. According to news reports this is the twenty-second school shooting this year.
This event seems a little different from the other school shootings. The alleged shooter showed few, if any signs of mental illness or emotional distress. However, there does seem to be evidence that he was bullied by others.
Bullying among students is a problem in every school in the country. At Pine Plains we take every report of bullying seriously. If substantiated, the students who engage in this behavior receive disciplinary consequences. It is often difficult to identify those responsible. Parents can be very helpful in reducing bullying behavior by speaking to their children about the need to treat others with respect.
We have attempted to hold a program for parents to address concerns and provide assistance in dealing with their children. Weather forced two cancellations of this program and we have had difficulty in rescheduling our speakers. This program will be held as soon as we can make arrangements.
As far as the security at the schools is concerned, we have made significant improvements in the past few years and are constantly looking for ways in which we can further improve the safety of our students and staff. This summer, our buildings will be equipped with full video surveillance, both inside and out. In addition, our district and building safety teams are regularly reviewing our plans and planning practice drills for different situations.
Finally, I believe that you as parents have an important role in providing a healthy emotional environment for your children. I strongly urge you to monitor your children’s gaming and television viewing especially, in light of the recent media coverage of these shootings. The video games that are available to children contain content so violent that they are difficult for most adults to watch. I must specifically mention that Netflix is again running their popular series “13 Reasons Why”. This program has been identified by the national Association of School Psychologists as potentially harmful to children. The show’s content includes graphic depictions of rape, drug use and suicide. Please consider your children’s exposure to this program.
Once again, we offer our parents assistance in any way possible as you work through these difficult circumstance with your children. Please feel free to call our school offices if your wish to speak with one of the administrators, counselors or psychologists.
Thank you again for your support.
Martin D. Handler, Ed.D