It is a tragic ending two days before school is out for summer break. Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in the community of Uvalde, Texas resulted in 19 children and two teachers dead. The nation is shocked and saddened as the parents and community mourn their loss. We will not forget this incident as it bears the scar of innocent lives lost to a madman. It leads one to think “where were the parents of the gunman involved?” As a former public school teacher, I can’t help to believe that there were warning signs that this person was mentally disturbed.
Salvador Ramos is a name we will never forget. Before the shooting, he shot his grandmother in the face* and reportedly left a message on social media that he was going to “shoot up” an elementary school. He then drove to the school, crashed his truck, and entered the school at an unlocked west entrance. By his mother’s own words, her son was a loner, stuck to himself, abused animals, and cut himself on his face. He was bullied in early grades for having a speech impediment. It was reported that he had behavioral problems and had conflicts with other students before dropping out of high school.
Ramos not only took the lives of innocent children, but he also destroyed some trust in our school system. It is beyond comprehension why these children weren’t protected more and why so many children were killed due to the lack of security measures at the school. It took an hour* to shoot the assailant as he barricaded himself in a classroom. Why didn’t the police move faster? Ramos started shooting before he entered the building. The shooting only took about 4 minutes to massacre 21 people. The children and teachers didn’t have time to react.
One solution is to provide security codes at each entrance with a security camera at each door. Doors would remain locked. Teachers and staff members would have to punch in a code to enter the building. Visitors and parents would need to ring a button to alert the front office in order to enter the school. School children would be allowed entrance in the morning and as buses arrive. This would also include as children leave the school in the afternoon. The doors need to be replaced with heavy steel doors for added protection from outsiders attempting to enter the building. An armed police officer or security guard seems reasonable, yet, there are not enough police officers to meet the security needs of every school.
We need to do better, especially with our school children. How many more children do we have to lose before something is done? According to the media, there have been 27 school-related shootings in 2022 already and there will be more. It is a domino effect from Columbine in 1999 whereby two teenagers entered the high school and shot students. People are copycats, they will do anything for fame to get the attention of others. However, I believe if Ramos had gotten the proper help he needed years ago, this tragic event could have been avoided. I blame the parents (and grandparents) for not recognizing their son’s mental illness early enough as well as the school staff.
America needs better security measures for schools. God only knows how long it will take to prevent another tragedy like Tuesday’s shooting. Americans can’t afford to lose more children. They are our future generation. This goes for teachers as well. There are too few of them.
*Updated with new information.