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W.Va. report cards emphasize safety

June 02, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - U.S. Rep. Bob Wise said he will release a school safety report card next week that he hopes will help communities make schools safer for students.

The report cards will list the elements of "safe schools," including early intervention programs that identify troubled students and the relationship school districts have with area law enforcement, Wise said.

Other suggestions include peer mediation to help students resolve conflicts and police reaction plans for incidents similar to the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., earlier this year, Wise said.

"When students go home with their reports next week, I want these safety report cards available so that schools will be safer when students return next fall," Wise said.

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Wise, who is running for the Democratic nomination for West Virginia governor in next year's primary, made his remarks on Wednesday following a fifth-grade awards ceremony at Winchester Avenue Elementary School in Martinsburg.

With politicians on both sides of the aisle using the Columbine High School shootings as a backdrop for debates on everything from gun control legislation to tighter reins on the media, Wise said Congress needs to realize "that everything is on the table."

"There is no one easy answer. We have to be willing to look at the total problem," Wise said.

Guns, the media, counselors and law enforcement all need to be examined, Wise said.

Parental involvement is critical to making schools safer for students, Wise said.

"Schools only have kids eight hours a day. The other 16 hours those children are somewhere else," he said.

Wise also echoed President Clinton's concerns about violence being marketed to children in the forms of television shows, movies and video games.

"I have more than 50 channels on my television and I can't control every minute of what is watched," he said. "There needs to be more responsibility by those who produce those shows."

He added shooter-style video games send a message to children that there is no downside to "bloody shooting."

The visit to Martinsburg was just one of three school-related events for Wise involving the Eastern Panhandle on Wednesday.

Wise led a group of students from Martinsburg's Rosemont Elementary on a tour of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. and presented an American flag to students at Shepherdstown Elementary.

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