PHILADELPHIA - A day after three students were targeted during dismissal from Simon Gratz Mastery High School, parents are calling for heightened safety in schools.
Since the beginning of the year, nearly 200 kids have been shot in Philadelphia. The latest shooting happened yesterday as two men got out of a car and began firing shots at three students after their senior barbecue day at Simon and Gratz Mastery High School.
Kevin Bethel, the Chief Safety Officer for the Philadelphia School District, says that 162 active students have been shot and since September, 31 students have been killed. He says he fears violence against kids no longer shocks people.
"I think there’s been a level of making this stuff normal," he said.
Bethel’s officers do not patrol charter schools, like Gratz, but he says that the battle to keep all kids safe is unrelenting.
"We do our best, here at the school district, to try to create the safest environment for our kids. I’ve had homicides at the doorsteps of my schools, or children shot within a block of our schools," Bethel said.
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Along with the force of 300 safety officers, metal detectors work to keep weapons out of schools. This school year, 14 guns have been taken and Bethel says that kids just leave them outside their schools.
The school district, which is made up of 130,000 public school students, nearly 90% of them are minorities. As a person of color, Bethel says that sometimes he struggles, and he has been feeling that since he entered the police department.
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