Posted on

Issues, solutions addressed at safety forum

Issues, solutions addressed at safety forum
Issues, solutions addressed at safety forum
Panelists, from left to right, John Cordray, Family and Student Liaison at South Harrison, Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye, Pastor Tim Johnson, WAVE-3 News director Bill Shory and State Rep. Karen Engleman listen to South Harrison Community School Corp. Superintendent Dr. Mark Eastridge. Photo by Ross Schulz

Thoughts, ideas and solutions were discussed Friday morning at a school safety forum in the Corydon Central High School auditorium for students and community members.
Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of the South Harrison Community School Corp., said the forum was put together in response to the horrible tragedy that occurred last month in Parkland, Fla., and the rash of threats across the country since, including one at Corydon Central.
‘Keep in mind today is not the end of the discussion,’ Eastridge said. ‘I trust (CCHS Principal) Mr. (Keith) Marshall; he will make sure that your voices are heard. We want to know what you think, students and parents.’
Panelists included John Cordray, Student and Family Liaison at South Harrison Community School Corp., Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye, Tim Johnson, pastor at Pfrimmer’s Chapel United Methodist Church east of Corydon, WAVE-3 News director Bill Shory and District 70 State Rep. Karen Engleman, R-Georgetown.
Seelye said, thanks to the quick and effective response by School Resource Officer Mark Bye, all school corporations in the county are considering adding school resource officers from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept.
Seelye called for a round of applause for Bye.
‘You have a very valuable resource right here in this school,’ he said of Bye.
Seelye said the students are the county’s most valuable resource, and, when it comes to law enforcement, they’re also the most valuable intelligence.
‘We don’t have crystal balls in our glove box in police cars to tell us what we need to do,’ he said. ‘We learn that by building relationships with you … like Mark (Bye) has obviously at this school.’
When there is a threat, the most important thing students can do is communicate with school administrators and law enforcement.
The second announcement Seelye relayed at the forum is a help or hot line that will soon be set up at the sheriff’s department for students, parents or anyone to call, text or email anonymously to share information, whether it be threats or concerns, or struggles of any kind.
‘We strongly encourage you to use that,’ Seelye said. ‘We get our most valuable information from you guys.’
The idea came from a parent in the North Harrison school community. Any type of bullying or suicidal thoughts could also be discussed anonymously, the sheriff said.
‘We thought that was a wonderful idea,’ he said.
Eastridge commended the department for the initiative.
‘And I love that it’s being paid for (with) confiscated drug money,’ he said. ‘I think that’s fantastic.’
Seelye said the sheriff’s department is happy to partner with South Harrison and said the corporation is more proactive than any others he has worked with.
Johnson called it a humbling honor to be able to speak at the forum and said his faith in God has served him well in times like these.
‘Not everyone shares that same faith,’ he said. ‘I have great respect for all people, regardless of faith. I’m an active community member; that’s why I’m here. I love Corydon, I love Harrison County and I love you.’
Johnson said he wanted the community to be proactive so a tragedy like what happened in Parkland doesn’t happen here.
His words to the audience centered on valuing human life.
‘We can legislate all we can, metal detectors at the doors, armed guards in hallways, try to fight the gun-control battle, but we cannot legislate the condition of your heart,’ he said.
Johnson then listed off the current top five-selling video games. The top three (Call of Duty, Battlefield 1 and Destiny 2) were listed under the tag of shooter franchise video games.
‘Listen to that name: shooter franchise,’ he said.
The fourth was Grand Theft Auto and the fifth, drawing applause from students at the mention of it, was Fortnite.
Johnson said scientific studies show that, eventually, desensitization sets in from playing video games.
‘Eventually, you get desensitized,’ he said. ‘You have to police that. We can’t police your heart.’
Johnson said the more graphic the video game, the more young people will pay for it.
‘And I’m just concerned as I watch the desensitization of human life,’ he said. ‘And then we’re stunned and shocked when someone comes in and takes human life. We can take action, but you can take action too.’
Engleman said schools are going to end up locked up tight like prisons because of ‘this stupid stuff’ that continues to happen on school campuses.
‘Everyone comes to the legislature; ‘you need to legislate this, legislate that’,’ she said. ‘We shouldn’t be legislating this. It’s ridiculous.’
Engleman said she supports guns in schools but not in the hands of teachers.
‘For one thing, students can overtake them, and some of them aren’t prepared to shoot somebody,’ she said.
She said the school resource officers are fantastic.
Engleman implored students to restrain from wanting to be like those who have made the news because of shootings.
‘Unarmed churches and schools, that’s where they’re going,’ she said. ‘What kind of brave person is that? We shouldn’t ever glorify them. They’re chickens. They’re bullies. Don’t try to be like them.’
Later in the discussion following a question compiled by Marshall from students, Engleman said she didn’t think outlawing guns was the answer.
‘Maybe the ones that shoot so many rounds,’ she said. ‘We’re always discussing gun-control measures. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.’
The audience burst into applause following Engleman’s statement.
Shory said no discussion should be off the table concerning guns and, as a journalist, the First Amendment (freedom of religion, speech and press) is important to him, but he understands there’s certainly some limits to it.
‘We could certainly have the same dialogue with the Second (amendment),’ he said.
Cordray said he’ll be there for students to listen.
‘You have a voice; we want to hear it,’ he said.
Johnson left the audience with a thought for moving forward:
‘We really do need to work together and, if we’ve got people working together on all different aspects of this thing, then maybe we have a chance,’ he said. ‘But, if we try to legislate this and legislate that, chances are we aren’t going to make much of a dent.’
After the discussion, the panelists traveled to South Central High School for a similar forum with students and adults.
The entire forum is available on the South Harrison Community School Corp.’s Facebook page.