Arming Teachers: What parents, teachers, students, and schools need to know
“It is striking that we know very little about the impact of arming teachers on school safety. To the contrary, research on related topics points towards the possibility of negative outcomes or heightened risks.” — Amity Noltemeyer
As school shootings and gun violence continue to impact schools across the nation, many lawmakers are considering bills that would make it easier for school districts to arm teachers.
Professors at Miami University are available to offer research-based commentary on the issue of arming teachers, what the new legislation may mean for students and educators, and ways to consider alternative approaches to improve school safety.
Amity Noltemeyer, professor of Educational Psychology, is involved in research on school-based wellness, mental health, and positive behavior supports.
Noltemeyer says there is very little research on the efficacy of arming teachers, and research on related topics shows negative outcomes or heightened risks.
- “It is striking that we know very little about the impact of arming teachers on school safety. In fact, many associations representing law enforcement, educators, school psychologists, and school resource officers oppose arming civilian staff in schools based on the lack of evidence supporting this practice.”
- “We know that teaching can be a stressful profession with many competing demands, and high cognitive load negatively impacts firearm skills and accuracy, which is particularly concerning since shooting accuracy in the field has been shown to be low even among highly trained police officers.”
- “I recommend school districts consider evidence-based approaches to improving school safety, which include effective threat assessment procedures, access to a continuum of high quality prevention and mental health supports, reasonable building security measures, and inter-agency coordination and collaboration.”
Brian Schultz, chair and professor of Teacher Education, is an expert in a variety of educational and school-based issues centering on justice, equity, and curriculum.
Schultz says there may be many negative unintended consequences of the legislation, including an increase in teacher shortages and staffing issues, in addition to the potential for guns being used for the “‘wrong’ reasons by the ‘wrong’ people.”
- “We find ourselves in such a reactive space rather than investing in schools, communities, and people through means that we know can have a tremendous impact. We know from research that youth and communities fare better when there is a robust, rich, and culturally sustaining curriculum, smaller class sizes where teachers can develop deep relationships with children, and mental health supports to address behavioral concerns.”
- “If the state and local municipalities invested in these evidence-based practices, we might find ourselves working towards different ends by challenging the inherent idea that schools are unsafe places that need to be policed, watched, and surveilled to prevent violence and school shootings.”