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Analysis shows more weapons found in Richmond County elementary schools

Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 12:42 AM
Last updated Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 6:51 AM
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Elementary students in Richmond County, some as young as 5 years old, have been caught bringing weapons like pellet guns and knives to class more often than their peers in middle and high schools over the past three years, according to an analysis by The Augusta Chronicle.

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Richmond County Board of Education Cpl. Jeff Tilley checks to make sure a classroom door is locked during a "hard lockdown" drill. Tilley says some schools aren't as prepared as they should be for lockdowns.   MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Richmond County Board of Education Cpl. Jeff Tilley checks to make sure a classroom door is locked during a "hard lockdown" drill. Tilley says some schools aren't as prepared as they should be for lockdowns.

The newspaper reviewed more than 1,200 incident reports involving student violations and found that authorities confiscated 116 weapons from elementary students between 2010 and 2013, compared to 71 and 87 weapons seized in middle and high schools, respectively.

School Safety and Security Chief Alfonzo Williams said the number of incidents at elementary schools might surprise some but is not reason for alarm because the vast majority are innocent and without ill intent – a common trend found nationwide.

More than 90 percent of the weapons cases reported showed these students bringing either a knife to show classmates, having a box cutter in a backpack or other similar circumstances without threatening or harming others, according to the reports. In general, experts say that’s not unusual and that younger students are more likely to carry weapons to show off without thinking of the consequences.

“It sounds crazy, but it’s mostly a show-and-tell thing,” said Todd DeMitchell, professor of education and justice studies at the University of New Hampshire. “They’ll bring in a weapon without necessarily knowing how dangerous it is, and when that occurs, it raises the issue of (weapon) safety in homes.”

According to incident and tribunal reports, elementary students either threatened or harmed a classmate with a weapon on seven occasions over the last three years compared to 12 times in middle and six in high schools.

For example, a 7-year-old Blythe Elementary student pointed a loaded pellet gun at classmates in April and a 9-year-old boy at Sue Reynolds Elementary School threatened to cut a classmate’s tongue with two knives in 2010.

Disciplinary cases involving a suspension of more than 10 days typically are referred to a tribunal panel, which hears the case and might assign the student to the alternative program. Elementary students are not typically subject to tribunals because there are no elementary grades in the alternative program. However, they can be suspended for 10 days or fewer or counseled by the administrator, which was the case with elementary incidents.

In the middle and high school weapons cases, the vast majority resulted in arrest, suspension or reassignment to the alternative program, reports show.

In 2011, 8.6 percent of Georgia students reported carrying a weapon to school and 11.7 percent reported being threatened or injured with a weapon, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control data.

Chris Dorn, an analyst with Safe Havens International who perfoms safety checks for schools, said the most common type of weapon found in schools is a knife with a one- to two-inch blade. He said elementary students are more likely than their older peers to bring weapons to school because they are unaware of the rules or want to show their friends.

Still, Dorn said school campuses remain the safest places for children despite the nationwide questioning of school security after mass shootings such as at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and Columbine High School in Colorado.

“Some people think Sandy Hook is the norm when in fact Sandy Hook is such an abnormal event that it doubled the homicide rate for schools,” Dorn said. “We know schools are safest places to be for kids and have been for the past decade.”

To make Richmond County classrooms as secure as possible, changes have been made by school safety officials to better prepare staff for student-on-student violence and dangerous intruders.

In September, Williams appointed Cpl. Jeff Tilley as emergency preparedness officer to develop site-safety plans for all 57 schools and train staff on lockdown procedures in the event of a shooter.

“We don’t just want to have a plan that sits on a shelf,” Williams said of taking preparedness to the next level. “We want a well-trained staff that’s vigilant and ready whether it is an active shooter or a natural disaster.”

For the first time in Richmond County, Tilley has led an effort to do state-approved safety checks that reviews locks, cameras and ID systems county-wide to ensure they are in working order. Each school will have an 80-page safety manual that details the steps administrators, students and parents should take in the event of an emergency.

“People learn from practicing procedures, not just being told what to do,” Tilley said. “If we expose it to them ahead of time then they have something to relate it to when an emergency actually happens. It should be second nature when we’re done.”

WEAPONS VIOLATIONS

A look at the findings of the incident reports involving student weapons violations in Richmond County schools, from 2010-2013:

 ElementaryMiddleHigh
Knife813247
Gun127
BB/pellet/airsoft guns14104
Toy gun620
Bullets/ammo325
Box cutters/ razor7611
Sharp/blunt object361
Brass knuckles038
Stun gun/Taser012
Sword030
Other142
Total1167187

MEDIAN AGE FOR WEAPON CARRIERS

Elementary: 9 Middle: 13 High: 16

WHERE MOST WERE FOUND

A look at the findings of the incident reports involving student weapons violations in Richmond County schools, from 2010-2013:

SCHOOLWEAPONS
Hephzibah High17
Academy of Richmond County15
Butler High12
Sego Middle12
Diamond Lakes Elementary11
Morgan Road Middle11
Pine Hill Middle9
Barton Chapel Elementary8
Freedom Park School6
Comments (17) Add comment
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soapy_725
43672
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soapy_725 01/18/14 - 10:16 am
1
0
News Flash: Deputies use less guns, students use more
Unpublished

News Flash: Deputies use less guns, students use more

soapy_725
43672
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soapy_725 01/18/14 - 10:17 am
1
0
Must be "gun news day".
Unpublished

Must be "gun news day".

oldredneckman96
5054
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oldredneckman96 01/18/14 - 09:54 pm
7
2
More propaganda!
Unpublished

Figures don’t lie but, liars can figure. This article was so blatantly written by anti-gun nuts. Once you read the facts, you dig out the fact they are counting toys children play with every day as “weapons,” BB guns? What boy does not have a pocket knife? Pictures of a gun? What, you can not arrest little Johnny for thinking about playing cops and robbers?

corgimom
31172
Points
corgimom 01/18/14 - 11:51 pm
4
5
No, this article wasn't

No, this article wasn't written by anti-gun nuts.

We had kids that brought weapons to school. But it wasn't innocent, the ones that did were the deeply disturbed ones, and it wasn't for show-and-tell.

Boys no longer carry pocket knives. there isn't a need for one. Most men today don't carry them, either. Children don't carry box cutters for fun, or stun guns.

Don't believe the crap about how "innocent" and "safe" the schools are. There are very disturbed children that now attend school, and there are a whole lot of them that really need to be in a therapeutic setting instead of a public school- but now we have "mainstreaming."

nocnoc
41187
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nocnoc 01/19/14 - 12:22 am
4
0
More Info Please!

Yes we have serious school discipline problems.
What besides corralling them all to together at Tubman what is being
done?

Why do we have School police & courts?
Why not just hand them over to YDC for criminal offenses?

Now regarding the type of Weapons.
Can we get a breakout of the weapons found at each school so we can see which schools are the most dangerous (guns and knives tasers).

Also please define what is considered a Blunt vs. Sharp object and are the Toy guns more than just water pistols?

Darby
25031
Points
Darby 01/19/14 - 12:51 am
7
0
Oh!, for the good old days.

When I was in grade school, you'd have been hard pressed to find a boy who didn't have a knife in his pocket. It was more or less considered a standard accessory.

Dixieman
14387
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Dixieman 01/19/14 - 08:44 am
4
0
Remind me again...

...why it is that you don't send your children to private school? How could any decent parent send his or her children to a public "school" where no learning takes place and they are in harm's way every day? Disgusting. Our country is failing our kids.

seenitB4
85385
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seenitB4 01/19/14 - 09:31 am
4
1
Our country is failing our kids.

You are so right dixieman....but what do we do?

This would scare the punk out of me if I still had kids in school...unbelievable madness going on.

nocnoc
41187
Points
nocnoc 01/19/14 - 09:58 am
3
0
Quick example how much society has changed

RCSB back around 1970-1 allowed Hephzibah Jr. High and likely other schools, to circulate a Sales Catalog/Magazine around the schools. The schools got much $$$ needed for supplies and etc. from the sales.

The Sellers got points for items sold to parents, families and others which went to prizes. One of the prizes was a Marlin 22cal rifle
(a lot points) . In all fairness RCSB must have thought no one could sell that many items. Until 7 extended family students and a close family friend got together and pulled their pooled their sales resources.

Another Example:

Show and Tell day.
One kid brought in his G-G-Daddy's CSA Cavalry Carbine.
It was kept in the office downstairs, except during the Show and Tell Class. But the student was allowed to bring it on the bus to a from school and go downstairs to get and return with it by himself to class.

That is how much society has changed in 30 years.

This new generation is scraping the bottom on morals, responsibility and civility.

robaroo
721
Points
robaroo 01/20/14 - 12:11 am
4
0
Against the Rules, but Not Necessarily Weapons

I resent the schools labeling box cutters and knives under 3" as weapons. They are tools that could be used to harm people. But there are a lot of everyday items that could also be used to hurt people.

The baseball team has aluminum bats. There are cars in the parking lot. There are chemicals in the chemistry lab. There are rocks in the playground.

What the schools should be doing is looking at intent. If a student threatens someone, then discipline them or report them to law enforcement.

By the way, Corgi. I carry a baby size pocket knife every day, and I see a lot of men with pocket knife clips sticking out of their pockets.

internationallyunknown
4052
Points
internationallyunknown 01/19/14 - 11:06 am
0
1
Where are the inner city

Where are the inner city schools...???

Darby
25031
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Darby 01/19/14 - 01:20 pm
2
0
Doesn't help to lament the

Doesn't help to lament the past, or groan about our lost innocence, but it's still interesting to "compare and contrast".

In my last year in high school, I had one of the leads in the Senior Play. The script called for three quick gunshots to ring out in the background. We tried slapping two boards together and other similar sound effects but there was not the realism the directors wanted.

The teachers who were directing asked if anyone of us (students) had a gun we could bring to school and fire three blanks in rapid succession. At the time, I had a Beretta 22 semi-auto and volunteered. I was young and didn't know then that blanks wouldn't provide the recoil to eject and load another cartridge.

We discovered our problem at dress rehearsal. That was when my eighteen year old self suggested that I bring live rounds and fire them into a bucket of sand at the appropriate time. The teacher agreed and that's what I did. It worked beautifully!

Like I said, innocence lost. Today, that high school senior would probably find himself in psychiatric counseling just for making the suggestion that I did those many years ago.

Darby
25031
Points
Darby 01/19/14 - 01:28 pm
2
0
"By the way, Corgi. I carry a baby size

pocket knife every day, and I see a lot of men with a pocket knife clip sticking out of their pocket."

.
I seldom carry a knife these days, but I'm never without a small "box cutter". They are twenty-five cents apiece at Harbor Freight and are very useful.

Of course, while it could do some damage in a fight, that's not the reason I carry it.

corgimom
31172
Points
corgimom 01/19/14 - 04:09 pm
1
2
My father carried a pocket

My father carried a pocket knife with him every day of his life.

He was a Nebraska farm boy, and every farmer did in those days.

There are some people that do outdoor work that need them, but if you don't, there aren't a lot of uses for one anymore.

gargoyle
16079
Points
gargoyle 01/19/14 - 08:02 pm
1
0
I'm still in shock that there

I'm still in shock that there aren't a lot of uses for knifes any more. Its a tool that I consider as useful as a wallet, It gets used quite often.

Dixieman
14387
Points
Dixieman 01/19/14 - 09:44 pm
3
0
gargoyle:

One knife, two or more knives.

But I still wonder why the plural of roof is not rooves and the plural of dwarf is not dwarves.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/20/14 - 01:07 pm
1
0
No brass knuckles in elementary? shocking

The reason parents are sending kids to public school is b/c we are forced to pay into the system whether we get something out of it or not. If you have enough income to send your kids to non-public school, well that's just fine indeed. But I see no benefit in being pushed out of something I pay into. I don't like the public education system admittedly, but we don't throw the parents under the bus for sending their kids there. That said, I don't complain about "having" to send my kids to public school, but I'll rail on the way it's operated anytime.

Darby
25031
Points
Darby 01/20/14 - 01:08 pm
2
0
Maybe

if more of us were carrying knives, we could revive the lost art of whittling.

There was a good bit of that going on in my youth. Kinda makes me a little nostalgic just thinking about it.

Darby
25031
Points
Darby 01/20/14 - 01:13 pm
2
0
".....a 9-year-old boy at Sue Reynolds Elementary

School threatened to cut a classmate’s tongue with two knives in 2010."

Hmmmn? In 2010? How is that relevant to anything?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/20/14 - 05:24 pm
0
0
The half-eaten poptart

The half-eaten poptart resembling a pistol was the last straw fer me.

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