Tasers in Schools? Why Your Kids May Not Be Safer with Armed Security Guards
The increase in the use of Taser electroshock weapons across the United States came as a result of the search for a weapon that would subdue criminals without being lethal.
At first, Taser technology seemed to work just fine.
However, as the Taser has become a standard tool of law enforcement agencies everywhere and the number of Tasers employed has skyrocketed over the last decade, Taser deaths and injuries became increasingly more common.
The sad truth is that Tasers have proved not to be the "non-lethal" method of subduing individuals that they were touted to be.
Recently, the Uniontown Area School District in Uniontown, Pennsylvania voted down a proposal to arm security guards at the school with Tasers, after a war between security consultants and civil rights groups as well as concerned parents over the safety of Tasers cast doubt on the need for the dangerous weapons on school grounds.
Reportedly, board members intended to arm guards to protect against outside threats to student safety, though using the devices to subdue out-of-control students wouldn't be out of the question.
However, the public comment section at the board meeting leading up to the vote became a platform for parents to speak out against the proposed policy, as parents concerned about the possibility of accidents and misuse voiced their opinions loud and clear, according to local news reports.
One parent expressed concern over students thinking that bringing a Taser to school would be acceptable.
Reports from around the country seem to bear out the concerns of parents, as incidents involving misuse and abuse of Tasers have grown despite the fact that officers armed with Tasers are involved in training and certification before they can use one on duty.
The more standard Tasers become, the more likely their use becomes standardized as well; instead of being treated as a last resort or an alternative to firearms, many are simply used in a reactionary way as control devices that inevitably cause personal injury of some kind.
Not to question the well-meaning intentions of the Uniontown school board, but promises not to use Tasers on students are easily broken and justified.
WSBT TV in Elkhart, Indiana reports that a 14-year-old student in Indiana was Tasered after he refused to stop fighting another student when school officials intervened. An Elkhart police lieutenant was quoted as saying, "It did enough to get him in cuffs and get him into the office so they could figure out exactly what was going on."
Once again, the Taser was used not as a last resort, but as an extra-powerful arrest tool. No wonder parents are concerned.
Though Uniontown officials nixed the proposed Taser policy in their district, schools in several states allow police to use Tasers in schools.
But while school officials, law enforcement agencies and the manufacturer of the Taser, Taser International, continue to speak of the Taser's effectiveness, questionable incidents and judgments by officers keep mounting. One incident in Florida involved a 12-year-old girl playing hooky from school who was Tasered when she tried to escape from the truancy officer; a first-grader was also Tasered after he threatened to cut himself with broken glass.
One thing's for sure: if officers carry Tasers in schools, history has proven that they will be used on children. The Pennsylvania children from the Uniontown district are certainly safer as a result of the plan being thrown out.