Counselors vital to curtailing shootings

11/14/2006

As I See It
By Billy McCord 

School shootings are of vital concern to me, as I am sure they are to you. Dr. Hank Bounds, state Superintendent of Education, recently discussed school shootings in an article published by many of the papers I read. My sincere thanks to the editors for carrying his column in their publications. This shows me that those papers care also. Schools contain the most precious things that families have. At whatever cost, we must try to protect the children.  

I am sure that by reading accounts of school violence you have discovered that many of these tragedies have been caused by other students. I refer to these as “children shooting children.” This is indeed sad and caused by a number of factors, one of which is the break up of the American family. Children bring problems from home to the school room, many times problems over which they have no control. In more than one incident the gun or guns used came from their home.  

School personnel cannot do much about what is happening in the homes of the children under their care. But school personnel can be on the lookout for children who exhibit anti-social and hostile behavior. Those behaviors can be detected if teachers are made aware to be on guard for this type of behavior.  

It is my sincere hope and prayer that one day every school will have trained counselors on staff to help deal with this type of behavior. Having a degree in counseling myself, I can say without reservation that counselors have the educational training to be of tremendous help in dealing with problem students. They also have the expertise to make referrals to appropriate professionals and agencies that are trained to deal with such students.  

The problem in our state is that too many schools do not have a counselor or the number of counselors needed to make a difference. I hope when we talk to our legislators we can and will bring this fact to their attention and request that they help by providing adequate state funding for this critical need.  

Too often schools that do have counselors use them for purposes other than counseling. Way too often counselors are relegated to record keepers. They fill out cumulative records, record grades or perform other clerical duties. This is a waste of money. A counselor with a master’s degree (which is a minimum requirement) with five years of experience makes $35,200 per year. Based on being employed 200 days this is $176 per day. Clerical workers can be employed for less!  

However, the sad part of this is that students who need help are not receiving it. These very well may be the students who will commit violence in our schools.  

Please don’t just read this article and toss it aside. Talk to the people who can bring about changes in our schools. The child’s life that you may help save may be your son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter. As I see it these are serious matters. 

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 billymc@tycom.net.