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Viewpoints: SRO stopped school violence

There is no real reason why the school district should have had the school resource officer on the list of things to cut. Since he has been at Conant, there has been a significant difference in hallway behavior. I can easily think back to a time when there were kids pushing each other into lockers, and getting into hallway fistfights just because they could. In one instance, a friend of mine was almost caught in the crossfire during a fight between two usually calm boys. After Officer Chris Anderson came to the school, hallway violence stopped virtually overnight. The usually troublemaking students were intimidated by the presence of an officer enough to stop their horseplay, while the students who were commonly either bystanders to the fighting or victims to hallway bullying started to feel a more protective atmosphere.

Off the top of my head, I can name a few situations when I was grateful the SRO was there. I was at lunch one day with my friends when the entire cafeteria suddenly went silent. Everyone there watched Officer Anderson lead a boy out in handcuffs. Just thinking of what a boy with that kind of anger could have done to other students, let alone teachers, is scary. Even if the police had been called, it would have taken them a few minutes to get to the school, and stop the boy.

Another time was in the main hallway. When we were allowed to spend time before class in the hallway, people would all talk in their isolated groups. A single boy walked over to one of these groups, and punched another boy in the face, giving him an instant nosebleed. Yet another instance was in front of the school one morning. Two boys were fooling around, but it soon escalated into an all-out brawl that could have gotten the students involved, or perhaps an unlucky bystander, seriously hurt if they had taken a punch and fallen onto the pavement the wrong way.

Not only has the SRO been there to stop fights, but he has also been there to talk to students about crimes that had been committed against them, such as vandalism. He also has helped with Conant’s forensic science class by explaining things like how an officer collects fingerprints from a crime scene, how bullets work and why a gun is dangerous. Along with his lesson on ballistics, he also told us what precautions to take when using guns. Very useful advice not only for the students hoping to be forensic scientists, but also to the students who use guns while hunting.

If the School Board takes away the SRO, then some students will take the opportunity to start as many fights as they can just to show that they feel free to do so. The hallways will once again become unsafe, and some students will have to come to school fearing for their safety.

Sarah Payson lives in Rindge and is a Senior at Conant High School.

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