Local students share their thoughts on school safety
March 10, 2018 02:24 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- In the weeks following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkdale, Florida, local leaders and community advocates have had fervent discussions about what is needed to make schools safer.
Erica Zucco sat down with students from Albuquerque-area schools to get their direct takes on the issue.
For the most part, students were less interested in physical security measures, and more in how students treat each other and are treated by adults and the community.
In the video "NM Students on School Safety," hear them answer some group questions and share their overall perspectives on the issue. In the "Additional Interviews" videos, hear more of their thoughts. Many of their comments are also transcribed below.
Question: What issues do you think we need to consider when we talk about empowering youth and making schools safer?
"Sometimes counselors think things aren't serious. They should take everything serious instead of just blowing it off and thinking you're joking."
-- Rohnin Mora, seventh grade, Washington Middle School
"Teachers and counselors and principals should be more supportive for us because you don't know what's going on at home, and coming here and people bullying, you don't know what could happen next."
-- Bernadette Lopez, seventh grade, Washington Middle School
"Self-harm and things like that. Because things can be happening in your house that people don't know and sometimes they actually don't care about because you're never hurt. When you come to school you're sad and you fake a smile to pretend that you're OK, but it's just still not OK."
-- Leticia Diaz, seventh grade, Washington Middle School
"The kids should mostly go to the counselors and it's hard to explain but, I think they should take it seriously."
-- Marissa Zamora, sixth grade, Washington Middle School
"Self-harm is one issue. And then like, students need the choice of calling their parents and telling them, because sometimes parents don't support them in that issue, instead of like talking to them, so students we should have a choice of either calling our parents or just leaving it between us and the counselor."
-- Maria Martinez, seventh grade, Washington Middle School
"I think we should be able to wear anything we want here at school- you will be comfortable, you could wear anything and be comfortable, but you have to wear a uniform here."
-- Janessa Lopez, sixth grade, Washington Middle School
"A couple years ago, there was a student at my school and one night he was just having a complete breakdown. He was texting me how he wanted to shoot me, he wanted to shoot my friends, he wanted to shoot up my school. Really the only choice I had was to call the police, the next day the police pulled me out of class, interviewed me, they took my phone. They looked at everything that was said and at the end of the day, they took the student home to let the parents decide how they wanted to deal with it. And I don't think that's a very productive way to be dealing with if a student is threatening to shoot up a school, I don't think, I think there should be steps taken, intervention, they should have to go to counselors, they should have to go and see therapists."
-- Jonathon Alonzo, 10th Grade, Native American Community Academy
"I think it's the counselor's responsibility to really be helpful because if students go to them they want help, obviously. But I think it's kind of on the students as well because recently one of the reasons that some adults don't take us seriously is there have been people who make jokes about shootings at schools, like at Rio Rancho High School recently. I think instead of students making jokes about it and not taking it seriously they should try to find ways and help the situation. For example, they should get involved in youth groups like this one or attend the youth summit we do every year. It focuses on five main issues, teen violence, youth empowerment, how to create change, what are the "isms"- racism, sexism, those kinds of things and environmental justice. And also going to things like marches and things like that- getting involved is a lot more helpful than making jokes."
-- Zoe Hughes, 10th grade, AIMS at UNM
Question: What are some of the other issues that you would like us to be talking about when we talk about making our schools safer, or when we talk about empowering you to make a difference?
"Maybe we could focus more on mediation and calming practices in schools, as an alternative to ISS or suspension. Instead of punishing kids for stuff, maybe trying to find the root of the problem, and working on that instead."
"Exactly how she says- instead of punishing and all that, we should get where it started. But some kids don't like to talk about it because one, maybe they could get in trouble with their parents. Not all parents are perfect and okay with these stuff, but sometimes kids have more stuff in their minds they need to worry about."
"Some of my peers are dealing with depression and anxiety, and from my point of view, if I have a friend coming to me telling me they want to kill themselves, that puts me in a really awkward position. I'm aware, but do I tell someone, because my friend could feel hurt with me, get mad at me, things like that, so I think having more counselors, more people at the school to go and talk with students and explain to them- what is depression? What is anxiety? What are these feelings? Why do we feel like this and how can we feel better, versus only having a counselor to go to there if you need it."
"I found out recently that this girl I knew committed suicide, in the past few weeks and it's crazy because I've talked to her before, and hearing about these kinds of stories is one thing- but actually having it happen to you and knowing people that actually did these kinds of horrible things- it really changes your perspective. I think having the resources like social workers and counselors at school, and people who really have knowledge about this and how to deal with mental health crises and have a lot of peer support and mediation programs... I don't know if it will prevent people from doing these sorts of things, but having those resources available could really be helpful to those kinds of people."
Question: One thing a lot of these conversations have centered around are how to make our schools safer. We think about things like having locks on doors. There's discussion about metal detectors, things about those physical measures. But what kind of supports do you, as students, feel would help you? And would help our students and community feel empowered so that these things don't happen at all? So people don't feel called to be a part of violence? What supports do you guys need?
"I think having more social workers and counselors at the school would be a lot of help. Making sure the students have somebody to talk to so they don't feel the need to harm themselves or others."
"ISS and suspension, talk to them to calm them down and ask why they fought or whatever they did to make them know more and could help others."
"Schools should have at least a couple security guards. My sister's school, they got more security guards, because she goes to Albuquerque High and they found a gun in someone's car, a student's."
"More funding for after-school programs- after school programs help people if parents can't take care of them; it's like a daycare service; that would be totally free. There's no reason to not have extended school and these programs that people get really involved in."
-- Eloisa Juarez, organizer, International District Healthy Communities Coalition
"I think to me school safety doesn't look like more security guards or metal detectors, primarily because low income and schools that have students of color would be targeted with that- just due to the simple fact that the neighborhoods we come from are labeled as "war zones" or "ghettoes." Our schools would be the first to have something like that. But like I said- having more intervention and prevention programs so students don't have to get to that point, would be a lot of help."
Do you have a story or unique perspective to share on how we can make schools safer? Reach out to Erica Zucco using the contact information below:
Updated: March 10, 2018 02:24 PM
Created: March 08, 2018 07:49 PM
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