Editorial — Protecting Kids: State Assembly Task Force Develops Ways to Keep Schools Safe | Opinion

Children deserve protection when they go to school.

Unfortunately, students are regularly victims of violence. School shootings have become commonplace in recent years.

And because they’re random events in unforeseen locations, it’s hard to prepare for a specific incident. Many schools have had to conduct active shooting drills to ensure they are ready for such a terrible event.

Republicans in the state assembly formed the Minority Task Force on School Safety and Security to solicit input on child protection. Members started holding public forums last month to hear from stakeholders on how to implement policies that would prove effective.

“Keeping the public safe is the most important job of any legislative body. That charge comes with many different considerations, and in recent months we have seen a critical gap in the safety of New York’s schoolchildren,” wrote Councilman William A. Barclay, R-Pulaski, in an Oct. 24 column for . “To close that gap, our conference launched the Assembly Minority Task Force on School Safety & Security to gather feedback in response to increased violence in schools and address other important measures to keep children and educators safe on school grounds. As such, I appointed Councilmembers Joseph M. Giglio (R, C, I-Gowanda), Doug Smith (R, C, I-Holbrook), and Mike Reilly (R, C-Staten Island) as co-chairs of the task force. Our first two events, one in Long Island and one in Staten Island, were a great success. The feedback we receive from law enforcement, educators, mental health professionals, parents and local officials will be extremely valuable as we devise legal solutions to address this public safety crisis. We will also generate a comprehensive report with recommendations and legislation at the end of our nationwide tour.

“It is never easy to discuss violence against children,” Barclay wrote. “Unfortunately, we have seen an unprecedented increase in violent crime in New York and across the country, including tragic school shootings, domestic terror attacks and other isolated incidents that have resulted in a heartbreaking number of fatalities. Now is the time for action. We need to give law enforcement and school districts the tools they need to identify, prevent and mitigate these terrible attacks. We need to strengthen mental health care across the board, and we need to make sure that everyone who enters a New York school can do so safely. Parents, school staff and students are rightly afraid. Children and educators cannot thrive if they do not feel safe in their learning environment. The Assembly Minority Conference is committed to ensuring that every New Yorker is safe, and this task force is an important step in that direction.”

The Task Force held its last public forum on November 2 in the Capital Region. Members will prepare a report summarizing the findings and recommended solutions. This will eventually be presented to Governor Kathleen C. Hochul and the state legislature.

Taking steps to prevent the ongoing violence we have seen in schools across the country is a daunting undertaking. Many people have very different ideas about how to achieve this goal.

Therefore, we commend the members of this Task Force for their efforts. We urge Hochul and all state legislators to view their findings with an open mind and work constructively with them to achieve positive outcomes.

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