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November/December 2022

You Are Part Of The Solution For Safer Schools
The U.S. has had 2,032 school shootings since 1970, according to statistics gathered by Sandy Hook Promise. Discussions in the media and in a variety of industries have attempted to find solutions, to that end. "The Credential" joins the conversation with two experts in the A/E/C industry and their thoughtful opinions.
As news of yet another school shooting spread in recent weeks -- there have been 46 incidents in 2022 through October 31st that resulted in injuries or deaths -- "The Credential" began looking for answers along with many others. Two voices stood out, and we asked them to expound on their ideas for how the A/E/LA/C industry can be part of expunging violence from schools. 
Roe Gammon is a security consultant for Henderson Engineers, a Kansas City-based firm. He assists schools and districts in identifying safety gaps while making security features unobtrusive. He was interviewed for the Kansas City Business Journal article titled "Henderson Engineers expert uses unconventional approach to tackle K-12 school security design."
Justin R. Wolf is a writer, editor, and content strategist for the AEC industry, based in Minneapolis.  This summer, he wrote an article for Common Edge titled "It's Not a Design issue," pushing back on those - including the AIA - who suggest that the responsibility for deterring shootings in schools falls on building professionals.
They shared a new perspective on how our industry can affect change. Their answers have been edited for length.
What effect can we have on gun safety laws?
Gammon:  Gun laws are an effort toward reducing the ability for such catastrophic crime, which is outside the direct scope of the A/E/C industry. We do, however, have the responsibility of working with building owners to reduce the desire for crime and specifying thoughtful systems toward that goal. Don't place card readers to keep an attacker out before first addressing the events that led to the decision to attack. Of course, both sides are necessary for a secure building, stopping both the desire and ability to attack, so we must consider the balance between them. We spend a great deal of time indoors, especially students during formative educational years, so before anyone ever thinks about card readers and cameras, we need to think as a group about how that indoor environment supports staff and student, and how to create human-centered buildings that help occupants thrive.
It's hard to quantify the impact of this direct and indirect support, but we can step back and ask ourselves when we last saw a group of truly healthy, happy people cause mass violence. What is easy to quantify is a healthy relationship between staff and students where needs are known, and trust is outwardly visible. Attackers don't "just snap"; their behavior changes over time to include what the FBI calls "pre-attack indicators." Students with strong staff connections are less likely to attack and any indicators to the contrary are very likely to be seen and addressed before an event occurs.
Though the A/E/C industry has no place in parenting children, we have every obligation to support their education and serve them through healthy environments.
Wolf:  I believe the AIA and other industry governing bodies could develop knowledge communities, think tanks or similar that should partner with March for Our Lives, Students Demand Action, Youth Over Guns, or any number of the anti-gun violence policy/lobbying groups that also happen to be majority-led by student groups.  Ensuring safe schools that also happen to be designed for active learning, universal engagement, neurodiversity, and empathy begins with engaging students and following their lead as community spokespeople. Not parents, not school boards (which tragically have become increasingly politicized in recent years), not teacher unions, but students!
All of the above is only scratching the surface. That said, I would be heartened to see the building and design communities take this kind of action.
Stay tuned for "The Credential" in January to learn more about Gammon's and Wolf's ideas for how design and building professionals can play a part in this important issue. 
Protecting and saving lives matter. Thinking about the critical responsibility of the A/E/LA industry, not to exclude construction, - your professional licensure, oath, creed, HSW and more. Our voice as a collective group must speak up and speak out. 
The Credential follows important issues like this as part of our comprehensive monitoring of challenges affecting the industry. We stay current with modifications to credentialing requirements in more than 50 jurisdictions allowing you and your firm to focus on what you do best -- design, engineering, and construction.
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