As many of you have this week, I have been closely following the events in Chardon, Ohio. I suspect a lot of you never heard of it before last Monday.
I'm not from Chardon, but where I graduated from high school is roughly 20-25 miles from there. There are others on the news staff who grew up not far away from there, either.
The difference between Chardon and other towns where school shootings have happened is that Chardon has roughly 5,000 residents. That's smaller than St. Marys or Belpre, and not much larger than Williamstown. While it is about 30 miles from Cleveland, it could hardly be considered a suburb of that metropolitan area. It is located in Geauga County, relatively close to Ohio Amish country and its biggest claim to fame is that it is at the heart of the state's maple sugar industry. Unfortunately, it-at least for a while-will also be remembered for something else.
The school shooting on Monday, February 27, serves as a reminder to the Mid-Ohio Valley: yes, it could happen here, too. Parkersburg-area youngsters are exposed today to the same influences (video games, violent movies, difficult family circumstances, etc.) as those in larger cities. And while they haven't resulted in school violence, we have in recent years seen instances where juveniles have been incarcerated for violent acts. Remember the incident several years ago when a local teenager shot and killed his grandmother and his aunt? That happened near Lower Salem, Ohio.
Local school systems have tried at implementing security measures. They have avoided installing metal detectors at entrances, perhaps because of the cost, but probably because of the time involved in checking everyone who comes through the doors, especially at the beginning and the end of the school day. I would not be surprised if, someday, however, if there is a violent incident at a local school, those become commonplace.
As it is, while you used to be able to open the front door and casually walk into any area school, the doors now are locked throughout the day. In most school buildings, you have to press a doorbell-like paging device and explain though a speaker (usually to the main office) who you are and why you're there.
So while you're watching the events continue to unfold in northeast Ohio, don't be tempted to think, "it can't happen here". We all hope it won't, but there's no guarantee of it.
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