Birmingham, it’s time to make school safety a priority

Birmingham, Alabama, Woodlawn, students, high school, gun, violence, safety
Birmingham, Alabama, Woodlawn, students, high school, gun, violence, safety
On Wednesday, March 14, students at Woodlawn High School participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence. Photo by Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now.

UAB Hospital-Highlands. Huffman High School. The city’s homicide rate. Actions speak louder than words when it comes to violence in Birmingham. Are we doing everything we can to keep our students safe?

Courtlin Arrington, the Huffman High School student who was fatally shot had a life ahead of her. Her future was bright. She wanted to be a nurse and was busy planning her college career when her life suddenly came to an end.

Courtlin’s family wants to see more dedicated safety measures at schools, and I don’t see why we can’t all get behind that.

Her aunt told the Associated Press that the time for action is now.

“We’ve all failed our children,” Shenise Abercrombie said. “We’ve failed to keep them safe. There needs to be something done about it for sure. We want her death to not be in vain; we want it to mean something. We want it to be the start of change.”

Birmingham, Alabama, Woodlawn, students
Photo of Woodlawn High School students by Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

I became a mom almost seven months ago, and the biggest change I’ve noticed is that I am now maternal, to everything and everyone. I look at the world through mom-colored glasses.

Birmingham, Alabama, Courtlin Arrington

When you become a mom, you notice things. All the things. It’s a survival mechanism just as much as it is love. When it comes to our Birmingham community, we could all stand to look at school safety through mom-colored glasses, too. If we do that, what will we see?

Right now, we can see that students are demonstrating on Capitol Hill and walking out of their schools to protest gun violence. We can also see that legislators on all levels are responding.

In Birmingham we see that Mayor Randall Woodfin is holding a free, public event today to talk about his accomplishments during his first 100 days in office. More than 800 people have contributed to the mayor’s transition process, and their recommendations for the city will be discussed at the event.

Birmingham, Alabama, Randall Woodfin

From a regional outlook, Jefferson and Shelby counties recently held a school-safety summit to discuss safety bills “making their way through the Alabama legislature.”

Birmingham, Alabama, Woodlawn, protest
Anti-violence protesters outside of Woodlawn High School during Wednesday’s national school walkout. Photo by Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now.
Stop School Violence Act

Nationally, the U.S. House passed its first piece of legislation on Wednesday to prevent massacres like the one in Parkland, Florida.

The Stop School Violence Act was approved by a 407–10 vote, providing up to $75 million each year for the next decade to increase school safety measures. They include:

  • metal detectors
  • locks
  • training programs to help teachers spot potential problem

While this is a start, I hope that you, with your community-minded, mom-colored glasses on, can look straight into the heart of Birmingham and sternly say, like only a mom can, “Less talk, more action, please.

I also hope you have some ideas to share. How can we keep our students safer, Birmingham?