Experts say parents are key in preventing school tragedies

Published: Jan. 23, 2018 at 5:10 PM EST
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Following a school shooting Tuesday in Benton, many school officials around the state reviewed their own safety protocols. The Center for School Safety at EKU is a resource many educators turn to.

Jon Akers, the center's director, says he had already received several calls since news broke of Tuesday's shooting, in which two students were killed, and 17 others were injured.

He says he's been in contact with the superintendent in Marshall County. Akers was in Frankfort attending the House Education Committee meeting, but then went to the Kentucky School Board Headquarters once news began to spread.

"There were four superintendents from western Kentucky there and they started texting me their friends were getting information," Akers said.

The Center for School Safety is an advisory counsel, offering support and ideas for schools across Kentucky.

"We do a lot of training ahead of time. We do a lot of technical assistance, a lot of workshops around the state," Akers said

Akers says once more information is known about what happened Tuesday, they'll make adjustments as needed should there be any kind of trends that emerge.

He says the biggest help they can receive when it comes to keeping kids safe, is from their parents.

"Schools only have kids for 15% of the calendar year. Somebody else has them the other 85% of the year," Akers said.

He identified bullying, opioids, and online activities as problems students often deal with. He says parents should go as far as having kids charge their phones in the parent's bedrooms so they can check their online activity, even if it's an uncomfortable subject.

"They are more interested in being a friend than being a parent. And we need a lot more parents out there," Akers said.

Akers says if a parent does want to check their child’s phone at night one thing to be aware of is apps that can be used to hide information.

The center will be holding a presentation on bullying in Murray Friday. That event was planned before Tuesday's shooting.