I would like to express my appreciation to the four Elida students who spoke up regarding Mr. Ascura’s threats to “shoot up,” Elida High School. They were courageous when they decided to talk with the Allen County’s Sheriff’s office. I appreciate the speed at which the Allen County Sheriff’s office assessed the threat, made a decision, and then carried out their investigation to a peaceful end.
Mr. Ascura’s AR-15 rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition made his verbalized threats to the four students credible. I recognize there will be more to the story (there always is), but I feel grateful and relieved that the Elida community is less likely to suffer the trauma and loss of a school shooting.
In 1999, after the Columbine High School shooting that left 15 students dead, Colorado’s attorney general and governor along with other concerned Coloradans developed a list of ideas that could prevent another school massacre. Their ideas lead to a program that continues today — Safe2Tell. The goal was to provide an anonymous venue for parents, students, teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement to share information. From the Safe2Tell website, “Research shows that in 81 percent of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone other than the attacker knew it was going to happen but failed to report it . Typically, the information goes unreported because of fear of being a “snitch’ or that the attacker will then target the informant, thereby creating a ‘code of silence’.”
Since it’s creation, Safe2Tell has expanded it goal to prevent suicides as well as school massacres. I appreciate the team approach once a call or text is received. Not only is law enforcement involved, but also mental health professionals who are trained to respond in crisis situations. As a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, as well as a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a neighbor and friend to children, I would appreciate if Ohio lawmaker’s made an effort to provide legislation and funding to support a Safe2Tell program in Ohio. We have learned that massacres & suicides can happen anywhere and at any time. Prevention will take courage, effort and the maximum utilization of the available resources of time and money. Colorado shows us it is possible.
Please consider visiting the Safe2Tell website at https://safe2tell.org/ and reading about the history of their program and how it works. Please consider writing your senator, congressman, attorney general or governor and requesting legislation and funding to help the loss of lives.
And again, thank you to the four people who did not remain silent, and law enforcement who used their authority, strength, and wisdom to save lives.
Beth Bish, of Bluffton, is a pediatric nurse practitioner.