School Violence: A Search for Solutions brought students, experts together to address the issue

Published: Apr. 26, 2018 at 11:46 PM EDT
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It's a big question: how to make schools safe?

Thursday, students, parents, educators and law enforcement got together to try to come up with answers.

13abc and the Blade held a one hour town hall on school violence and the search for solutions. The conversation comes after the horrific shootings at Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida in February and the rash of local school threats since then.

Students from school districts across the area had the opportunity to ask a panel of 10 experts a variety of questions related to the topic, like arming teachers.

Kevin Dalton, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers at Toledo Public Schools, had a strong opinion on the issue.

"I represent over 2,500 teachers and not one of our teachers is raising their hands to say that [they] want to be the armed guard," he said. "We do not need to be the front-line security office for students and staff.

Gun rights activist with the Buckeye Fire Arms Association and panelist, Joe Eaton, also responded to the question.

"I have to clarify that," he said. "The people that are in the building when the violence starts are the front line, no matter what. "

There was also a lot of questions about mental health screenings and treatments and ways that schools can help.

"I think having the availability and the accessibility of mental health is imperative," Dr. Victoria Kelly, psychiatrist, University of Toledo Medical Center, said.

Many students wanted to know more about the appropriate ratio of students to counselors to help combat any mental health issues.

Conversations and debate about gun control also took center stage at times. Eaton made the case that the AR-15 has been around since the 50s and called mass shootings a modern issue.

"The facts that he's giving you are correct," Toby Hoover, founder, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said. "But we don't live in that world anymore. We live in a different world so we have to change as it goes along. More guns is not the answer."

Many of the area students in the audience left the town hall feeling like it was a good discussion but aren't sure whether any real solutions were developed.

"I don't believe they were practical solutions," Devin Turner, a Rossford High School student said.

But everyone can agree that it was a conversation that needed to be had and there's hope that with more in the future, they can come up with a solution that will work for everyone.