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Our Opinion: Keeping schools safe

March 14, 2001

It might be a sign of our times, but schools have become places where our children are not always safe. Our local school officials say they are as prepared as they can be to prevent violence like that at Santana High School in Santee recently. But school officials concede it is hard to be 100 percent ready for such mayhem.

Random and seemingly unexplained acts of violence cannot be predicted. They happen. It's unfortunate and tragic, but it is a fact.

We credit our local school district leaders for doing all they can to keep our kids safe. The Santana shooting again brought to the forefront the fact that young people have access to guns and random violence does happen in places we think it impossible. Still, from the information we have been provided, our local school districts were proactive in watching out for such violence even before the Santana shooting.

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Police and probation officers also deserve credit for having a presence on our local school campuses. We are sure their presence makes a difference in protecting our young people who shouldn't have to worry about violence but should be able to focus on their education and enjoy the positive activities in school.

But school officials and police and probation officers cannot protect our youth on their own. Parents play a critical role. You probably have heard many times in the past that parents play an even more critical role in educating their children than the role of our schools and educators. Likewise, parents play a key role in making sure our youths are safe.

That means parents have to be aware of signs in their children and respond when necessary. Sudden changes for the worse in grades and behavior are just two signs that may indicate trouble. Such signs cannot be ignored. And the problems they point to can be addressed. There are plenty of programs in the Imperial Valley to provide help to young people. Simply talking to your children about their issues and about violence can make a difference.

Can the kind of violence that occurred at Santana High School happen here? One would like to think it could not, but that would be a mistake. The more we understand there is a chance, the better we can all respond before such violence occurs.

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