If you search the internet for weapons in Connecticut schools, the first stories that appear (as of publication) are mostly related to the incident last month involving a student at the Latino Academy at Burns Elementary School. On several occasions this week, when I walked to work, I had to pass a small media circus stationed outside my neighborhood’s school. One report even referred to this area as being the “tough streets.”
No child, teenager, or adult should be carrying weapons to school. With that said, I have difficulty believing that this incident is something to be particularly alarmed about, especially because the student with the weapons turned them in to authorities. He had the opportunity to continue to make wrong choices, but he stopped and did the right thing. That’s something.
A little searching of the Connecticut State Department of Education website indicates that the incident at Burns Elementary was in fact blown out of proportion by the media. Using the most recent data available (school year 2007-2008), I learned that more often than not, weapons get brought into schools. This table shows data related to some elementary, middle and high schools in Hartford, as well as several other high schools in different regions of Connecticut.
For the table of the numbers of weapons by school district, click on the link in the Related Links box.
What these numbers tell us is that youth across the state (yes, even in top performing schools) make bad decisions; what we can not tell from this data is the severity of their poor choices. In a school setting, virtually anything can be dubbed a weapon. We do not know if the seven disciplinary actions related to weapons in Greenwich involved pen knives, switch blades, throwing stars, hand guns, or pepper spray. Someone might have gotten creative with a can of hair spray and a cigarette lighter. We just do not know.
Instead of looking at the Burns School controversy as this anomaly that reflects upon the climate of the neighborhood, we might do well to look beyond North Frog Hollow, beyond Hartford, and even beyond Connecticut.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.