With Taft Shooting, Small Towns No Longer a Safe Haven

January 12, 2013 /

s_kernsol_taftshooting_500x279South Kern Sol, First Person, Staff, Posted: Jan 12, 2013
Editor’s Note: Following the December tragedy in Newtown, Conn., another small town, Taft, Calif., is reeling from a school shooting this week. Students in the surrounding Kern County, at the southern end of California’s rural Central Valley, say the incident has heightened concerns over school safety. Worried that schools in small towns – once considered havens from the violence plaguing urban areas – may no longer be safe, they are calling for stepped up measures to protect students.

José Pinto, 17: I heard about the shooting from fellow classmates, since Golden Valley High School isn’t far from Taft Union High School. It’s less than 32 miles … the thought that it wasn’t very far from us made it even more terrifying.

The big questions are: Do we feel safe at school? And what measures do we think schools should take to ensure the safety of its students? Golden Valley High closes the main gate to the school and the only ways in are through the parking lot or the main office. This is a good way to improve safety but is it enough? It doesn’t take much for someone with a gun to get into a school.

One suggestion I would make to school districts is to educate students and staff on what to do and where to go in a situation like this – just like during an earthquake drill we know to hide under our desk, and in the case of a fire we know to evacuate to the field to get away from the fire. In a situation where someone has gotten into the school with a gun, we should have a plan to ensure the safety of all students and staff.

Clara Bruno, 17: For the most part, I feel pretty safe at school but there is always that level of uncertainty. Anything can happen.

Taft is close to where I live, and what makes it even worse is that my school, Arvin High, has not taken any extra safety measures (that I know of) to ensure the safety of students and teachers in spite of past events. Schools need to come up with emergency plans for this sort of situation. We know what to do during fire and earthquake drills but what are we supposed to do when a gunman enters the school? Hide under a desk like you would during an earthquake?

Although I’m all for making schools a safer place to be, I don’t believe that we should take it to extreme levels, like having police and military on campus every day when school starts. I do in fact think that we need stricter gun control, though I don’t think the government should ban guns completely.

Lizette Mireles, 17: As I was walking to my 5th period class after lunch, I heard kids talking about a shooting. I didn’t have a clue as to where or when the shooting happened. Sitting at my desk, my classmates were having conversations about a shooting at Taft Union High School – just about an hour from our high school. They had no details as to how or why it happened.

I had to wait until I was home to read an article and learn more details.

The fact that these past two shootings have been at schools makes me wonder if I can feel safe at my own school. These shootings seem to be getting closer and closer to home. Especially since we live in small communities in South Kern and both shootings also happened in small communities.

If these shooters managed to take a gun into a school, there is no doubt someone can manage to get a gun onto my campus.

But Arvin High School only has school safety drills in case of a fire or an earthquake. Not once have we done any drills in case of a shooting. All schools need to take more precautions for these types of incidents, and soon, rather than waiting until it happens again.