School threat prevention often starts with these Northeast Ohio - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

School threat prevention often starts with these Northeast Ohio men and women

(Source: WOIO) (Source: WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

The 13-year-old boy who shot himself at a Jackson Township school Tuesday hid the gun underneath his clothes, and rode the bus to school, according to law enforcement officials.

Cleveland 19 spoke to an expert who says bus drivers can be part of the solution when it comes to preventing school shootings.

School bus drivers see students in a different light than teachers do, and that can help them recognize red flags.

“Who's the first person to see every kid every day? Who's the last person to see the kid every day? It's that bus driver,” said Dr. Stephen Sroka, a public speaker and adjunct assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University.

He says school bus drivers can be an important resource.

“Bus drivers don't make a lot of money, they're kind of overworked, they're underappreciated, but they are the best radar we have,” he said.

In Alliance, a kindergarten student recently brought a gun with him on the school bus.

School administrators thanked the bus driver for spotting the gun and alerting authorities. No one was hurt in that case.

After all of the school violence lately, Dr. Sroka wondered whether bus drivers help prevent a school shooting, and he thinks they can.

After the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Fla., he put his ideas into an article.

“I wrote this article because a lot of times people feel like 'I can't do anything, this is out of control,’” he said.

In his article, Dr. Sroka tells bus drivers to start by saying "hi" to each student by name every day, and letting them know they have a role in keeping the bus safe by speaking up if something concerns them.

Bus drivers can also recognize the signs something could be really wrong when a student starts acting out.

“They're carrying our most important cargo, the most precious cargo we have in this country, our future, our kids, and it's a very tough job,” he said.

Dr. Sroka isn't putting all of the responsibility on bus drivers.

He says it takes a community to keep our children safe— from teachers and students to administrators and parents.

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