Debates are raging across the country about how to keep our schools safe in the wake of the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead.

While much of the debate has centered on the weapon used, Louisiana Association of Educators President Deborah Meaux says schools need to be investing more in social work programs to help troubled students.

“Make sure that we have trained counselors in our schools who are actually counseling. Many of the counselors that we have in our schools are pretty much administrative assistants.”

Reports indicate the confessed Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz was a troubled person with noted mental health issues, and a mother who had just passed away. Meaux says a robust counseling program could have identified those problems as a possible indicator of trouble.

“Those are the signals and signs that counsellors can alert us to and help these children find the help that they need.”

But Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Larry Carter says when state budget cuts come in, one of the first things on the chopping block tends to be social work programs.

“A lot of our school districts are struggling with not having enough money to support mental health programs for students.”

Carter says along with an increased investment in counseling programs, we need to be taking a look at improving the layout of schools to improve security.

“We need to really think about how we can create closed buildings where they are not open access and accessible to individuals who would like to do harm in those buildings.”

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