Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang issued the following statement in response to comments made by President Trump, who spoke publicly about arming teachers with firearms as a way to avert school shootings.
“The mere thought that teachers should be armed in order to ward off violence is utterly illogical and will only result in making our students and teachers less safe.
“The real issue at hand continues to be access to guns. In Boston, we have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. We have a Mayor and a Police Commissioner who are fighting federal proposals that threaten to move us backward, such as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Just last year, we hosted the New England Regional Gun Summit right here at the Bolling Building to work with our neighboring cities and states on preventing the illegal flow of firearms into our city.
“When it comes to school safety, we know that our focus should be on violence prevention and creating a culture of inclusion in all of our schools. We are providing regular training that’s rooted in best practices to ensure the safety of our students if a situation were to occur, not wasting our time training educators how to carry and use a firearm. Our priority in Boston will always be the well-being of our school communities, and bringing guns into schools is simply not the answer.”
Last month, BPS announced a partnership with the Sandy Hook Promise organization, founded by courageous parents who lost children in the Sandy Hook shooting. This free initiative aims to help foster safe and welcoming school climates, along with teaching school communities how to spot the warning signs to prevent a tragedy.
Sandy Hook Promise is working with BPS on the “Know The Signs” program, which educates students and teachers on how to identify signals that a student may commit a violent act.
80% of school shooters tell someone of their violent plans, and 69% tell more than one person.
37% of threats of violence occur electronically, and 28% of those are done via social media.
70% of people who commit suicide tell someone of their plans or give a warning sign.
One million students are harassed, threatened, or cyberbullied.
BPS is working with Sandy Hook Promise to develop an anonymous reporting app for students that would allow them to report concerns about safety or threats to commit violence or suicide. BPS is in the early stages of development of the app. It will not be available until at least next school year.
During the first week of February, BPS participated in Sandy Hook Promise’s “Start With Hello Week,” which teaches students how to be more inclusive and connected with one another. Because social isolation is a predictor in school violence, this effort helps students be kind to one another and build a more supportive and inclusive environment.
Another Sandy Hook Promise initiative which we will implement is Safety Assessment and Intervention, which teaches adults how to identify, assess, and respond to threats of violence of at-risk behavior before a tragedy takes place.
Signs of Suicide is another Sandy Hook Promise initiative, which teaches students and educators how to intervene and get help for a student who may be depressed or suicidal.
The Boston Police Department conducts presentations with school staff on what to do in the case of an active shooter. BPS and BPD have been doing this for the past three years.
All of our schools conduct “safe mode drills” at least twice a year.
Two years ago, BPS created an Office of Safety Services to work closely with the Boston School Police Department, which works with school staff to identify any potential safety threats, and to build a collaborative atmosphere with students.
In the last year, BPS created an Office of Safe and Welcoming Schools, which provides support teams to help students with their social and emotional needs.