Vigilance Against Violence
Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, more than 215,000 students have experienced gun violence in a school setting. Names like Sandy Hook and Santa Fe have become tragically familiar and debates about countermeasures fill the news. Heated discussion has become a norm, leading to a country that is more divided than ever when it comes to school safety.
In this public discourse, it’s easy to paint anyone who disagrees as the bad guys. After all, it’s far more convenient to assume this is true than to face the fact that everyone ultimately wants to end the brutality. Everyone’s heart aches when they see death tolls broadcasted across the nation. Everyone wants to fix the problem. People just have different ideas about the best solution.
At Geneva, measures have been taken to proactively hinder gun violence on campus. Following the devastating events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Geneva introduced safer gates, car identification tags and armed guards to the campus.
Compared to some other schools, though, Geneva seems moderate. Many have taken initiative with things like metal detectors, see-through backpacks, and locker checks. Others lobby for an increased sensitivity to the mental state of its students—like a mandatory psychological examination for each student.
With an initial examination, these precautions seem beneficial and pragmatic without reason to hold back. The more road-blocks for violence, the better, right?
When countless preventative security measures are in place, however, an environment of paranoia is unfortunately inevitable. Hallways monitored by armed officers and an imminent locker search can result in an attitude of fear for the students. The problem then becomes trying to foster a healthy environment in which the students feel safe.
The faculty at Geneva—rather than try to institute any and every school safety policy—try to set the tone for a secure campus. The teachers provide support for the students that promotes a healthy mentality and therein decreases the potential of mentally distressed students. They believe that a family-like community centered around Christ will ultimately result in a more secure and mentally beneficial home for students.
Geneva’s size also plays a role in this. Since there are only about 230 students in the high school, everyone is known to some degree. Going completely unnoticed is impossible and everyone is involved with each other in some capacity. This means that no one ought to feel left out of campus life and the culture aims to produce a cohesive student body in which violence is unthinkable.
In the end, no legislation or security measure can truly mend the broken world that we live in. But that also means that there’s always room to improve and we shouldn’t stop trying to do so. As issues keep arising and conflict ensues, we’ll keep our sights set on progress.
Graphic by Nathan Zuniga