How Md. students and parents can help stop school shootings

A large sign along the side of Md. Rt. 234 that welcomes visitors into St. Mary's County, Md. from neighboring Charles County. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON — Leaders in one part of the D.C. area are calling on students and parents to help prevent more school shootings and their advice could prove useful no matter where you live.

“If you see something on social media, take a screenshot and show it to an adult,” St. Mary’s County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Smith said at a community meeting at Leonardtown High School Wednesday night.

“Do not like it. Do not share it. Do not repost it. Don’t contribute. Report it; don’t repeat it,” he said.

St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron had a message for parents too. “I’m here to tell you, you are the first line of defense and probably the best line. I implore you to monitor social media and talk to your children,” he said.

Last month, two Leonardtown High School students were arrested after investigators said someone overheard the boys talking on a school bus about carrying out a shooting. Weapons were seized from one boy’s house and his father was charged for not keeping the firearms secure.

The school system has a big blue button on its Web page, where anyone can share an anonymous tip.

At the meeting, Smith discussed ongoing safety upgrades being made in the county’s schools.

“The learning that’s come out of multiple school shootings is that the safest thing that we can do is get kids into lockable classroom spaces and to be able to do that as quickly as possible,” Smith said. “So, we have over the last three years, been replacing every single one of the classroom locks with a throw bolt on the inside … before it was keyed on both sides; so, if you wanted to lock your door from the inside, you’d have to take a key and lock it.”

Door improvements are complete at 22 school sites. Six more locations are in line to get them, according to Smith.

School staff have been undergoing active-shooter-response training known as “Run, Hide, Fight.”

This spring, the county’s high school students will get that training too.

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