Civil Rights Group Presenting Alternative to NRA School Plan

Monday, 25 Mar 2013 01:44 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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A national civil rights group will present its alternative Thursday to putting more police in public schools, focusing more on counselors, campus safety teams, and secure entrances than armed guards to keep children safe.

The Advancement Project, which has worked on school issues for several years, will release its plan five days before the National Rifle Association plans to unveil a detailed version of its own proposal to put armed police at all schools, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The NRA made its initial recommendation a week after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn. that killed 20 children and six educators.

According to the Post, the Advancement Project report suggests hiring more counselors, social workers, and psychologists to keep a watchful eye on students, creating a positive school culture to prevent shootings.

The report cites research showing that 71 percent of school attackers felt bullied, and it recommends positive behavior and conflict resolution procedures as solutions.

It also recommends secure entrances, outdoor cameras, panic buttons, identification badges, and trained safety ombudsmen to constantly gather information from students and staff that could indicate the potential for trouble or violence.

“We need strong adult-student relationships, and that comes in the form of counselors and psychologists, as well as increased presence of parents and volunteers, and proven programs that reduce violence,” Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, told the Post. “Armed guards are not the answer.”

She said police officers often become disciplinarians and arrest the children they are supposed to be protecting.

Former Arkansas Rep. Asa Hutchison, a Republican who is leading the NRA efforts on school security, said an armed security presence is just one part of the NRA's upcoming proposals. Hutchinson, who once headed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and served as an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security, said the NRA’s expanded plans also include work on school access and security technology.

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