Utah parents discuss pros, cons of metal detectors in schools after recent incidents

Posted at 7:42 AM, Dec 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-02 10:03:10-05

BOUNTIFUL, Utah - Thursday's gun incident in Bountiful marks the third time in the past six weeks a Utah student has brought a deadly weapon onto a school campus, and it has parents wondering whether it's time to start thinking about installing metal detectors.

"If a metal detector helps our children stay safe, then yes, let's pay the tax dollars to do that," parent Susi Mabey said.

Sarah Lee, another parent, agreed.

"I'd rather them be alive and feel like they are in prison than be dead," she said.

According to a Fox 13 online poll of more than 1,600 people, 60 percent of them are in favor of metal detectors in our schools. However, the State Board of Education isn't so sure.

"I don't know that there is a pro for a metal detector in a school," said Verne Larsen of the state's Student Advocacy Services.

Larsen said installing metal detectors, like you see at the airport, would be an irresponsible knee-jerk reaction.

"Having to walk through a metal detector, I think that's more harmful than good for that student, and how they feel safe about their environment," Larsen said.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 10 percent of schools nationwide have metal detectors. Utah doesn't have any in their schools. Just one of them can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Larsen said they'd rather spend that money elsewhere.

"We need to focus on prevention, what can we do so kids don't feel the need to do this," Larsen said.

School districts have their own power to bring in metal detectors. Lawmakers could also propose a bill making them mandatory state wide. So far neither of those things have happened.

Fox 13 viewers have mixed reactions.

Sherry Davies Bleazard wrote, "I understand the hesitation of school officials to put up metal detectors because of the prison-like atmosphere. But with today's society, I would much rather be safe than sorry."

While Steve Reece wrote, "They'd be a total waste of money. If a kid wants to get a gun past a metal detector, he's gonna do it."

And James Stefani wrote, "I suppose you'll be taking out scissors, pencils and any other sharp objects out of school as well?"