With the disconcerting rise in school shootings in America, there is an argument that metal detectors should be placed in all schools across the nation. The statistics show that in 2018, before even the end of May, there had been 23 school shootings where there was somebody injured or killed.  The majority of school shootings occur in suburban high schools (where there are no metal detectors) and not in inner city schools (where there often are metal detectors). The truth is that there will be more school shootings and there are various measures that might be taken to prevent or reduce them. Metal detectors is one option and there are pros and cons that I will examine in this essay.
The biggest pro to adding metal detectors to schools is that the security team has built in backup for detecting guns on school grounds, helping keep students from bringing them onto campus where they can be used to harm staff and students. Keeping kids safe from gun violence will always be the top reason why people support metal detectors in schools.
In addition to weapon detection, the presence of metal detectors is an effective deterrent for attempting to bring weapons to school. If a student or visitor knows they won’t make it past the front doors, they may make the choice not to go through with their plan. Anyone approaching a school who wasn’t aware there was a metal detector could make the choice to not follow through with their intended plan for fear of being caught.
Another perk to metal detectors is that they give both students and parents peace of mind. When parents are comfortable sending their kids to school and students are comfortable being there, the educational process is smoother and more effective. The same can be said for staff members. Removing the fear of a shooting and having to protect students in an active shooter situation gives teachers the chance for optimal classroom instruction.
However, there are several reasons why people might be against metal detectors. One school of thought is that placing metal detectors in certain school districts is discriminatory and unnecessary. This is evidenced by the current existence of such devices in schools that have a large minority population.
Another con is that metal detectors can make the security team a bit lax. With the backup of the devices, they may stand down on certain things, increasing the risk of a major problem occurring on campus. The metal detectors should be seen as an enhancement for security, not a replacement.
Some parents and students feel that being sent through a metal detector every day takes away from the welcoming atmosphere that should be present in schools. It can put kids on edge and make them worry unnecessarily about their safety at school, which can hinder the learning process.
Finally, the cost is a major thing to consider. Most schools in America are already facing a huge deficit in funds and having to allocate much needed money to installing metal detectors takes funds away from other important aspects of learning. The budget in most school systems would need a major overhaul to make it possible to buy and install metal detectors. Fundraisers could help, but many families aren’t able to commit to such a monetary commitment and many schools would still come up short.
There are many pros and cons to metal detectors in schools and the debate over their presence is likely to continue, in much the same way the gun control debate rolls on. In the meantime, parents and kids are increasingly seeing school, not as a safe place to get an education, but as a potentially deadly place to be on any given day. There’s got to be an answer for safety in schools and metal detectors may be it. It’s up to society to decide what’s important – money or students’ lives.