More guns, less weapons overall in Hillsborough schools

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) — Hillsborough Schools spokesperson Tanya Arja tells News Channel 8 the 2014-2015 school year saw an increase in firearms discovered on campus. A total of three were reported, up from zero the previous school year. Arja, however, points to in-class student safety programs, teacher training and on-campus sworn law enforcement officers as part of the reason for an overall decrease in non-firearm weapons for the same time period: down from 65 to 59. These include items like box cutters.

“To put it in perspective obviously, we have over 207,000 students,” says Arja, adding “we’re trying to do everything we can to prevent it.” That includes urging parents to not rely solely on educators to talk to their children about the dangers of weapons.

Seffner mom Nicole Shepherd says she takes the school security topic seriously and lectures her three boys about it. “We do talk to the boys about that,” says Shepherd. “I have young men and you see all the stuff that’s been going on, so they know don’t take that, and I hope if they see their friends with it, they’ll report it in.”

As her youngest son Jordan gets ready to start seventh grade, she’s happy to share the work of school security education with administrators and teachers who aim to strike a balance between safety and keeping campuses from looking like “fortresses” according to Arja.

“I like that they have the gates around the schools to make it a little safer,” says Shepherd.

Another Seffner mom, Sherry Montgomery, expressed concern that Hilsborough schools don’t have metal detectors like the school her son attended in New Jersey. “You can tell kids what’s right, what’s wrong, but you can’t control other people’s kids,” says Montgomery.

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