Schools must be ready to protect students


As I See It
By Billy McCord 

Picture, if you will, a one-room schoolhouse in the vast farm country of Pennsylvania. 

Now picture a group of young Amish girls ranging in age from 6 to 13 tied up, lined up facing the chalkboard in the front of the room. The mad man who tied them up has told them they would be shot. This was after releasing the boys from the room. 

Try as hard as you can to imagine what was going through these children’s minds. 

I know they must have thought of not getting to see their families again, but outside that, all I can imagine is fright beyond my ability to describe it. One asked the shooter why he was doing this and all he could mutter was that he was mad at God. 

With bravery beyond anything I can describe one 13-year-old asked to be shot first and asked that the younger ones be allowed to leave. This mad man had to see God in these children because he asked that they pray for him. These children were Amish, and you can bet that all they had been taught was love of God and love of family. And yes, even in death they knew they would someday see their families again. Their innocent lives were taken by the force of Satan.

God did not take their lives, Satan did. 

Since 1996, 70 people have died in 30 school shootings. The nation’s deadliest shooting occurred in 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Fourteen students, including the killers, and one teacher were killed and 23 others wounded. Two students were responsible for this shooting. These students had exemplified behaviors that should have brought them to the attention of teachers and administrators. It took the lives of 14 students and one teacher for them to really be noticed. It was too late. 

How prepared are our schools for this kind of disaster? I am told that we who live in the South are a laid-back people and good at procrastinating. If this is true, perhaps the answer to my question is, “It won’t happen here. Those things happen somewhere else.” 

People employed by the school systems are charged with our most important possessions, our children and grandchildren. I want to pose this question again because it is too important not to consider. How prepared are our schools for a school shooting? Better yet, how prepared are the schools to do as much as possible to prevent such a tragedy. 

I don’t know the answer to these questions but I intend to pose these questions to as many school districts as possible. I intend to look at the policies of the Mississippi Department of Education and how it monitors implementation in local school districts. 

Friends, this is too important to ignore. Do you have children or grandchildren you are willing to give up to a senseless school shooting? If your answer is no, and I know it is, take time to inquire of your schools what policies they have in place to try to protect the children. Please don’t put it off. When and if it should happen it is too late to do anything but mourn our loss. 

McCord is a retired public school administrator and an elder in the United Methodist Church. He is pastor of the Pittsboro and Shady Grove UM churches in Calhoun County. Contact him at