Lawmakers Gather at UVA to Talk Teacher Involvement After School Shootings

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Lawmakers gathered at UVA on July 24 Lawmakers gathered at UVA on July 24
Dewey Cornell of UVA's Curry School of Education Dewey Cornell of UVA's Curry School of Education

School safety is a hot topic right now after several tragedies unfolded over the course of the last school year.

On Tuesday, July 24, lawmakers gathered at the University of Virginia to talk about solutions to this recurring issue.

Valley Delegate Steve Landes is the chairman of the House Education Committee and he heads a subcommittee that aims to work to prevent school violence before it occurs.

The Republican was joined by several experts from higher education who talked about the anger and depression some students face in the wake of bullying and harassment.

"We do have bullying and harassing on a regular basis," says Dewey Cornell of UVA's Curry School of Education. "So a lot of our effort needs to be devoted toward more of these everyday problems, rather than focusing simply on the rather high-profile events."

Dr. Cornell is a forensic clinical psychologist at UVA and says teachers and counselors need to get to know their students in order to gain better insight into their lives.

"The authoritative combination of having high expectations for students but also building warm and supportive relationships will do more to reduce problems of student aggression and improve student outcomes academically than just about any other approach,” says Cornell.

Though some surveys and research points to students in Virginia schools typically feeling safe and secure, Cornell says there's still work to be done.

"This spring we found that across 322 high schools that about 75 percent of the students feel safe at school, but of course we want that number to be 100 percent," says Cornell.

Cornell added that increased funding could help to provide more training for school staff and perform better threat assessments to in an effort to help prevent potential future conflicts.

He also says that there hasn't been a K-12 school shooting in Virginia in more than 20 years, and if these measures are taken then hopefully that trend will continue.