Teachers Didn’t Sign Up to Be Mental Health Workers and Certainly Not Cops

I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. Please “follow” me to never miss an article.

The June 14th episode of the PBS Newshour featured a highly consequential series of interviews with Public School teachers regarding their feelings about Mass Shootings. No matter what the level in which they were engaged, they were essentially unanimous. They didn’t sign up to be either Mental Health Workers or Police Officers. They certainly didn’t sign up to view their students as potential killers who needed to be carefully monitored for any signs of disturbing behavior, and thus reported to the proper authorities.

Just the drills and preparations themselves for Mass Shootings were traumatizing for both students and teachers alike. Overturning heavy desks to block doorways proved enormously daunting and stressful. But most of all, the very idea that teachers needed to be armed, let alone compelled by certain state legislatures, absolutely disgusted and horrified them. If they were forced to carry guns, then they would deliberately take the bullets out of them lest a student steal and fire them.

Studies show that trained Police Officers only hit their intended targets some 20 to 25% of the time. So why would expect teachers to be any better? The fear of hitting innocent parties in the crossfire was understandably high.

Teachers entered teaching with the idea of viewing their students as potential standard bearers of greatness, not as criminals. In short, however well-intended it was, the “hardening of schools” has the dire effect of alienating teachers from their chosen profession. It runs counter to their every instinct.

We are constantly being bombarded by senseless, if not out-and-out demonic, ideas. They need to be resisted with everything we can muster.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.

Photo Credit: Chinnapong



Professor Emeritus USC

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