Prevention is Key in Keeping Michigan Schools Safe 

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The Oxford High School shooting last year left in its wake four people dead and countless emotionally scarred as this senseless tragedy was sadly not the end of school-related violence. Two Henry Ford High School students were shot on Monday, November 21 while leaving the Detroit school located on the northwest side, during dismissal time the Detroit News reported.  

The shooting was reported to be an “act of retaliation” by individuals involved, Detroit Police Chief James White said in the article. The teenage victims’ injuries were not life-threatening.   

Police are searching for three suspects allegedly involved.   

“We know who we’re looking for,” said Detroit Police Chief James White said in a FOX 2 Detroit article.  

Clintondale schools in Clinton Township were also facing threats, too – four in the last month including school shootings, an airsoft gun found in a student’s backpack, and a bomb threat.  

Countless school shootings and other forms of violence are keeping students and parents on high alert with what to do to keep safe in varying threats of danger. What’s the answer to surviving gym class?  

While there is not a threat around every corner, there is still an apparent problem. According to Campus Safety Magazine, every day 12 children perish from gun violence in America while another 32 are shot and injured.  

What is going on with school threats and violence in America?  

It’s no surprise that more and more young people are facing unseen, and evident, challenges as the pandemic has taken a toll on this population segment at a high rate and making them more anxious, upset, and then some.   

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a troubling trend is emerging among today’s youth since the lockdown in March 2020 with suicide risk rising sharply for Americans, especially youth, across the board. The rise in suicide cases, though, was most noticeable among the nation’s youth.     

“Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, children’s physical and mental health, education, and economic well-being have been put in jeopardy,” according to an article on COVID-19: Five Crises Facing Children After 2 Years of Pandemic. “Moreover, there are fears the impact will be felt for years to come, as the world enters the third year of a global children’s crisis brought on by the collision of COVID-19, conflict, and climate emergencies, according to experts from Save the Children.”    

Could that be the cause for spurring some of these violent outbreaks in schools?  

Kimberly Root, section manager of, the Office of School Safety, Grants and Community Services Division at the Michigan State Police, told the Michigan Chronicle that one may never know why threats are rising at schools but prevention is always key.   

“I think that (we are) certainly seeing acts of violence increase across the country,” Root said adding that there are growing acts of violence being perpetrated throughout schools. “Unfortunately violence is not contained just to schools … (but shootings) really brings school safety (to the forefront.)”  

While keeping safety at the top of mind, the Michigan State Police Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) is one answer in the toolbox to offer preparedness solutions for schools.  

The STEP program provides teachers with emergency preparedness materials at no cost to the school, including instructor guides, copies of student handouts, and starter emergency supply kits for each student. The basic lesson includes an hour of instruction, but educators have the option to expand the lesson to include eight hours of material.   

Root said that the curriculum is needed in this day and age and can be taught by teachers, school officials, first responders, or volunteers with three core lessons that can be taught in as little as 30 minutes.   

A series of YouTube videos for kids, called Disaster Dodgers, helps introduce each concept, and an activity book offers 18 activities to reinforce ideas and jumpstart creativity.    

For more information about the free preparedness program contact Jane Troutman at or   

“When we talk about school safety we are talking about keeping a consistent approach and building on safety measures year to year and not letting our guard down,” Root said, adding that complacency can set in if there is a period of non-violence in schools. “(People have to) realize acts of violence can happen anywhere to an extent. If we can’t prevent we can respond and if need be we need to recover. … Prevention really is in my mind the thing we should be investing in most.”  

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist agrees.  

He recently told the Michigan Chronicle that he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have plans and policies in place, in conjunction with law enforcement, to ensure that school safety is ensured.  

“There is no issue more important to parents as having the peace of mind that knowing their kid is going to come home whole and safe,” Gilchrist said. “Gov. Whitmer and I both share that as parents.”  

Through grants, boosting mental health components for youth, and conflict resolution tactics, Gilchrist said that he is proud of the investments made for public safety, which will lead to “safer communities.”  

In July, Governor Whitmer signed a balanced, bipartisan education budget making the highest state per-student investment in Michigan history to improve every kid’s in-class experience. The budget sent $210 million to make schools safer and an additional $250 million to respond to student mental health needs, with every school receiving dedicated per-student funding—$214 for every kid in every district—specifically for campus safety and mental health.     

These dedicated school safety and mental health dollars can be used by schools to hire more mental health professionals, harden buildings, and create an intervention system for students who are at-risk. The education budget also allocated an additional $25 million specifically for schools to hire more on-campus school resource officers.    

“We’re just eager to do the work to meet the priorities of needs and I’m really excited about it,” Gilchrist said.   


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