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A statue and sign in front of North Scott Junior High School in Eldridge on Friday. A 12-year-old boy who brought a loaded handgun to the school on Friday has been arrested and charged with attempted murder according to authorities.

Over the past two years, there have been many school lockdowns. While they have certainly struck fear and panic into students and parents, most of them have been due to events going on in the community within a close proximity to a school, or they have been attributed to unsubstantiated threats.

But nothing came close to what unfolded on Aug. 31.

On that day, police say a 12-year-old at North Scott Junior High student brought a loaded gun into the school. We are all aware of the horrific details of this incident, and how close it came to disaster.

The teacher, after having a gun pointed at her head and the trigger pulled, is an absolute hero. She stopped that student and prevented North Scott from becoming another national news story about a devastating school shooting incident, according to law enforcement.

That 12-year old North Scott student is sitting in a juvenile detention center on charges of attempted murder. He intended to kill that teacher, prosecutors allege.

Let all of that sink in for a minute. Horrifying doesn’t begin to describe what may have happened.

While these methods keep our children safe from intruders, what about the threats from within?

Some school districts in the Quad-Cities may have discussed the use of walk through metal detectors. Most have dismissed the idea due to cost, impact on culture, or the time it would take to get students through every morning. Sure, if a student is dedicated, they may find a way around, but I am positive that metal detectors would be a discouraging factor for any student considering becoming a school shooter.

According to a Department of Justice, the cost of the type of metal detector necessary — yes, necessary — for schools runs between $4,000-5,000. The larger cost associated with using metal detectors is the personnel required to man them.

As a parent, I would donate money and volunteer my time to give my children more safety and security at school.

While the events of Aug. 31 were occurring, my son, a high functioning autistic student in the talented and gifted program at the school, was just two days from his 13th birthday. While my son was not in the room, it does not mean that this teacher didn’t save his life, and in doing so give him the opportunity to become a 13-year old-boy on Sept. 3. My heart has so much gratitude for this teacher’s actions on that day.

As a parent, I have felt my children were safer in a small town school district, away from the larger parts of the Quad-Cities. Ed White Elementary (where my other three children attend) started ALICE drills (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate training). There are staff and administrators at every entrance in the morning and at the end of the school day to help ensure the safety of the children.

After being instructed by the school to not come and pick my child, I began researching walk through metal detectors. I did this in an attempt to avoid a full-blown panic attack, as it took everything I had not to immediately rush to the school, get him and never take him back. I did immediately email my son’s teacher asking her to check on him and get back to me. She responded quickly and let me know that he was fine.

At this point, none of those reasons are strong enough to continue to jeopardize our children’s safety.

My first reaction was a desire to immediately create a GoFundMe to put walk through metal detectors in all schools in the Quad-Cities, but lacking administrative support from all these school districts make it unlikely to happen even with the funding. My call is for all parents and concerned residents of the Quad-Cities to push on those school district administrators for a change in how we protect our children. 

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DeMarr is the mother of four children enrolled in the North Scott Community School District. She is an adjunct lecturer for Ashford University.

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