We all watched in disbelief on Valentine’s Day at yet another school shooting, this time at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. This tragedy is becoming all too commonplace in our nation. The men and women of the sheriff’s office hold the families, faculty and first responders of that horrific event in our prayers.
I’ve had hundreds of parents reach out about school safety. I hear you and I understand your concerns, as most of us here at FCSO are parents too. We take the safety of our children as a solemn duty at the sheriff’s office. Our 28 school resource deputies are highly visible on campuses every day, not only protecting our kids, but interacting with them so they can identify erratic behavior that can signal danger. We have additional school resource deputies being placed in our schools this year as well. While those deputies are a vital line of defense against violence, they cannot complete their mission alone.
If you want to know the most valuable tool we have in our arsenal to stop school violence, you might be surprised to know that you have tucked them into bed for years. Your kids, our students, are the first ones who will see erratic or threatening behavior. Whether it be social media posts, personal conversations or rumors, our own children will be the ones to see it. I need all of our parents to have that difficult talk with your children. Our children must speak out if they see any suspicious behavior or threats. It is far too easy to disregard such behavior, often fellow students see it as joking, venting, or looking for attention and it may indeed be just that, or it may be more sinister. Please talk to them early and often about this.
FCSO takes any school threat seriously. We immediately investigate any rumored threat and immediately engage the student and parents where the threat originated. Working alongside our school safety partners, we have intervened in several potential threats over the past years that, prayerfully, turned out to not be valid threats.
That intervention, however, is what will keep our kids safe and it begins with our kids telling us what they see and hear. We cannot do it alone.
I am asking for your help, and for Forsyth County to become a leader in this area. Remember, “If you see something, say something.” Working together we can keep Forsyth safe.
Sheriff Ron Freeman