As the federal government continues debating gun control, several local agencies gathered for a school safety summit in Wilmington on Tuesday at Cape Fear Community College. Attendees represented various organizations, from school administration and law enforcement, to mental health and the court system and it marks the beginning of a community dialogue to assess school safety, focusing on prevention rather than a cure.
New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David, who organized the summit, says it wasn’t created from a place of fear, but with logic and reasoning. He says the purpose is to build community partnerships to create better environments within schools. The summit promotes collaborative efforts across agencies, specifically when it comes to sharing information and assessing early warning signs in student behavior. David says the summit isn’t just a one-time event, but a starting point to look at the road ahead.
“It’s about reporting, it’s about reducing the silos that sometimes exist between the mental health community and the parents and teachers who first spot the warning signs. We’re not talking about active shooter situations and preventing that, and we’re not going to declare victory if that doesn’t happen in our community. What we’re talking about is making the entire school climate safer, and therefore a better learning environment for students, teachers, anyone who walks on that campus.”
David says a working group known as a threat assessment team will be formed from the summit, comprised of members from multiple agencies and disciplines. Over the next six months, the team will look into and assess the best possible practices to put into place in the schools.