The never-ending story

Published 5:45 pm Thursday, December 27, 2018

Looking back at the top 10 stories of 2018, each demanded a varying degree of attention and resources. Some happen, are covered in a day and done with, with all the answers tied up in a neat little bow. Others take months to reach a conclusion and involve countless phone calls, records requests and interviews.

Of all of our top 10 stories, one sticks out as both poignant and long-reaching, with no meaningful end in sight. That is the ongoing story of school security and school shootings in the United States.

It’s not just schools — workplaces, houses of worship, concert venues, nightclubs and seemingly random public places — all of these have been the site of mass shootings (more than four people killed) in 2018, occurring on an almost weekly basis.

Including the front-page story in today’s paper, the staff of the Washington Daily News has written dozens of articles and editorials on this topic during the past year. These included:

  • Three stories of threats made against schools in Beaufort County.
  • One story of a gun found on campus at Washington High School.
  • Stories on parent-child conversations on the phenomenon of school shootings. local efforts to ensure student safety and the formation of a new school safety committee.
  • Two stories and an editorial in March on planned student walkouts at local high schools in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
  • Full coverage of the hiring of school resource officers for each high school in the county, as well as a mental health counselor for the school system.
  • Nearly a dozen editorials on the subject of school shootings and the impact here in our community.
  • Stories on active shooter trainings at Beaufort County Community College and security seminars offered to local churches.
  • Multiple letters to the editor and Sound Off comments from concerned citizens on shootings, threats and our community’s response.

On a bulk basis, content-wise, this topic has by far been one of the most written-about and discussed topics in the Washington Daily News in 2018, perhaps excepting Hurricane Florence. Whether directly writing about a tragedy elsewhere, or local response, this is a subject that has garnered much attention and plenty of ink this year.

And so it should.

While our community has been thankfully spared the horrendous tragedies endured by others, no one is under the illusion that we are somehow immune. It’s something no one wants to think about or imagine, but it’s something we have to. That’s the only way we can prepare for and prevent such a tragedy in our community.

While thought and conversation are well and good, in Beaufort County, 2018 has also been a year of action. From actively responding to threats and holding active shooter trainings to increasing cooperation between agencies, adding funding for school resource officers and mental health, our local leaders have clearly been taking the issue seriously.

Even still, it’s not going to go away. So continues the never-ending story. We’ll keep writing about it as long as we have to.