DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama State Department of Education’s Prevention and Services hub held their regional community meeting on school and student safety. Dozens of parents, educators and students packed Beltline Church of Christ in Decatur Tuesday.
PEACE night, as it is affectionately named, focuses on parents, educators and the community. The purpose of the meeting this group is aware of the warning signs of all dangers students face.
School shootings and threats have increased in recent years, but school officials say there are other areas of student safety that also needs attention. Things like cyber threats, lock downs and bullying were all discussed.
“We will eliminate, potentially reduce those types of occurrences from happening. Everyone is looking for what happened, then no one is afraid to share with someone because everyone is going to do something about it," said Dr. Marilyn Lewis, prevention and support coordinator with the Alabama Department of Education.
“In this day and age, physically and cyber bullying, it’s all happening. It all has to be addressed. You cannot neglect any of those areas," said Justo Dorantes. His daughter attends Austin High School. At the meeting, he says he learned new apps to look out for, bullying trends and ways to talk with his daughter in these areas.
“It’s very scary, but to know I’m sending my kids to a school where I know they’ll be taking care of...that’s my number one priority," said Amanda Bowlen. Her children recently transferred into Decatur City Schools.
“When we look at all of the horrific occurrences within schools of school shootings, oftentimes it’s been someone who is a part of that school or is a current student so working on the mental health of students and then providing them services that they need becomes paramount,” said Lewis.
While it’s impossible to completely avoid these scary situations at or around school campuses, state leaders, like Lewis, believe sharing their methods with the community is what will keep more students safe if that time should ever occur.
“I think awareness was one of the most important things talked about here tonight. Just seeing what you may not have seen before, looking where you may not have looked before - watching for that and helping in anyway that you can," said Drew Robinson, a student at Austin High School.
The ALSDE will continue to hold regional PEACE nights across the state. Over the past four years they have focused on administrative training across the state.