More attention needed to prevent mass shootings

In the wake of the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, there was a Keeping our Kids Safe Town Hall meeting held at Ishpeming High School on Sunday.

The town hall, hosted by state Rep. Sara Cambensy, brought together members of law enforcement, school administrators and legislators to speak — and listen — on the subject of school safety.

During the meeting, Michigan’s OK2SAY program was referenced a number of times. A record 980 tips were submitted to the OK2SAY hotline in March, with an additional 601 tips in April.

Michigan State Police Capt. John Halpin said that statistics show that 26 planned school attacks were thwarted by the OK2SAY tip line.

“Those are verified planned school attacks that were called in, 26 situations that did not occur because somebody took the initiative (to) look further into something and then called,” Halpin said. “I can’t stress that enough — we need to spread the word. Social media is something that is here, it’s not going away, and we need to use that to our advantage.”

We agree with that notion; following many of the recent school shootings, there has been a trail of suspicious behavior left behind on social media by the perpetrators involved. And while this may not stop every single incident from occuring — it’s certainly a big step in the right direction.

Halpin said the issue of school safety has risen to the level of a crisis, that better communication may be the key to solving.

“The school in Santa Fe had two armed security officers, former police officers working that day,” Halpin said. “They did five lockdown drills in the last two months and that suspect was still able to take 10 lives. We have lost more school children in 2018 than we have lost military personnel in combat and non-combat situations, more school children — this is a crisis. We’ve got to do something about it.”

Halpin is right — more needs to be done to prevent future incidents. Addressing mental health care in Michigan is perhaps at the top of that list.

“Michigan has the third highest student-counselor ratio. It is recommended that we have one counselor for 250 students, our national average is one per 481 students, and in Michigan we have one counselor for 729 students,” said Cambensy.

She said, in addition, past cuts to state mental health funding has put the system in crisis.

“In every community I go to, I hear investing in mental health care is a critical need. Costs continue to rise,” Cambensy said. “And we all know the opiod crisis remains horrifically underfunded.”

OK2SAY encourages confidential tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at students, school employees, and schools.

Tips can be submitted by calling 8-555-OK2SAY or 855-565-2729; via text message to 652729 Via email to ok2say@mi.gov; or on the web at www.ok2say.com.

Mining Journal (Marquette)

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