WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Leaders in our community are trying to find a way to prevent violence in schools, like last year's shootings in Connecticut.
Today law enforcement and school leaders from New Hanover and Pender counties met for a summit on school safety. The focus was on what to do when a threat or concern comes to light, when to involve law enforcement, and ways to create a safe school environment.
The massacre in Newtown, CT, reminded many that tragedy can happen in places you least expect.
"It is a concern for every parent in the country right now," said Kieran Shanahan, North Carolina's Secretary of Public Safety. "We're at a point in our country when a parent drops their child off at school they don't feel safe, and we need to do something to address that."
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says the school safety summit shows a united effort in the community to look at school safety at all levels.
"From K-12, and what we as a community should be doing, could be doing, and what we need to do to prevent some of the issues that we've seen arise in the last several years," Saffo said. "Not only around the nation but around here in our own school system here."
Leaders talked about preventing bullying, using school resource officers and parents who volunteer at their kid's school.
"We wanted to have enough time pass where we could come from a place of calm and not one of fear and panic but also be proactive and not reactive," District Attorney Ben David said. "We're not going to wait for a tragedy to occur before we take our full attention and place it squarely on this issue."
David wants to stress this is not because our schools are unsafe or that there is a threat. The goal is to try and spot anything before it happens.
Officials looking at school violence decided the best way to approach the problem requires a whole community response.
"It's up to the school system, and that includes teachers, that includes parents, that includes administrators and staff," retired FBI behavioral analyst Larry Bonney said.
Mayor Saffo says the next step is for everyone to play a part in achieving these goals to prevent any tragedy from occurring in our area.