Local News

Governor Announces Task Force on School Violence, Safety

Posted May 19, 1999

— With more than 40 bomb threats made at North Carolina schools since the tragedy in Littleton, Colorado one month ago -- and more recently, the school violence in Conyers, Ga. -- the fear of copycat crimes has been on the minds of parents, teachers and students across the country.

Gov. Jim Hunt answered questions on WRAL's 5:00 News Thursday about school violence and school safety. WRAL:First of all, parents and communities all over the state are concerned this evening, worried about the safety of their children in these closing weeks of school. What do you say to them? GOV. JIM HUNT:Well, first of all I would say to them that we're also concerned about the students in Georgia -- the victims of this shooting and their families.

But I would also say to our people that while we have a lot to be concerned about, our state of North Carolina has been working on this for several years.

We've done about five things that I want our people to know about. First of all, we've made it a felony to bring a gun to school.

Second, we have nearly 600 law enforcement officers in our schools every day to protect our students.

We have lots ofmentorsworking there.

We have aCenter for the Prevention of School Violencein our state that's been working with our schools -- and has had about 756 calls from other states, and nine foreign countries since Columbine.

We have a lot ofS.A.V.Echapters -- students to prevent violence.

But there's more that we have to do. We, in particular, have to get parents more involved in communities. And that's why today, I established and appointed a statewide task force on youth violence and school safety.

I am giving them 60 days to come up with more ideas about what we can do, but basically it's about talking to students -- staying in touch, finding out what they're doing and of course keeping them involved in things in school so they'll have a real purpose for doing the right kind of things. WRAL:Governor, you talked about enrolling parents as well. There's some parents that are saying that we are so close to the end of the school year, why don't we just put an end to it now -- sort of regroup and go ahead and let the students out for the year. What do you say to those parents, and do you endorse that idea? GOV. HUNT:I do not endorse that idea. I think our schools are pretty safe in North Carolina. They're getting ready to have their end-of-course tests.

I did my volunteer-mentor work today at one of the middle schools in North Carolina. That's a safe school. Most of them are. I would say to them, hey, get out there and be in those schools -- be there when classes change. Be willing to be a volunteer to watch things in the bathroom and on the halls.

We need to get more involved in our schools to make them safe and we need to be more involved in the lives of our students and be talking to them and listening to them. WRAL:Governor, some parents get really emotional and say this wouldn't happen if there were no guns. What do you say to the argument of more stringent gun control or gun banning? GOV. HUNT:We ought to keep guns out of the hands of students. We're trying to reduce teenage smoking in this state. It is even more important to keep guns out of the hands of students.

We need to take whatever action it takes to see that that happens. But again, parents need to know what their students are doing. If their kids have guns, parents ought to know it. And they ought to do whatever it takes to see that those students are safe and that they're not taking those guns to schools and doing things like that.

There's no substitute for us as parents, of being responsible and tending to our children and our family.

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