How far should teachers go to protect their students - - Columbia, South Carolina

How far should teachers go to protect their students from violence?


At the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, an active shooter training course stresses how quickly a shooting can become a massacre.

In attendance was Columbia Police Officer Larry Johnson, who works with School Resource Officers.

"Speed is key," he said. "The majority of active shooter incidents range from seconds to minutes."

As SRO's are trained to respond immediately and, if necessary, alone. So teachers are asking their own questions.

"What is it you need to do to protect those you are there to teach?" asked Jackie Hicks, President of the South Carolina Education Association.

For years, Hicks and her coworkers have been trained on how to communicate, lock down, and wait for help.

But these days, time is not on the side of the potential victims.

"It used to be that hey, we'd lock the door and law enforcement would take care of the problem," said Hicks. "Well, as we saw in Newtown, it all happened so quickly."

Hicks, like law enforcement, stresses that resistance should be used as a last line of resort.

But just as teachers are tasked with practicing lock downs and emergency communication, there's a personal conversation that needs to take place.

"When you're a teacher, you love what you do and you want to take care of them," said Hicks. "But you have to get to that point in the conversation: what is there in this classroom I could use as a last defense?"

Some, including Midlands sheriffs, have suggested arming teachers is a more realistic option than hiring hundreds of additional school resource officers.

Hicks disagrees.  She said the majority of her teachers would not feel comfortable with more guns in their schools.

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