Counselors, not SROs
The school is an institution of nurture, learning and self-development. Ideally, it is a place where our children can feel safe and even inspired by the role models around them.
This year, when Lynchburg students return to school, they will be coming from a period of trauma in our nation, a time of uncertainty like they have never before experienced. The combination of a deadly epidemic and the endless images of deadly force on our televisions will have left them anxious and uncertain. More than ever before, they will need to experience the school as a place of steadiness and sanctuary. And our teachers will need all the help we can provide them!
I believe that having cops in schools is more harmful than helpful — especially for students of color who fear being mistreated or arrested for minor disciplinary issues that should be handled by school staff. The presence of officers can create a hostile school environment. The little kids are scared and the older ones are resentful.
Also, it is not fair to put police officers in that position. They have been trained to handle criminal situations. We need well-trained counselors, psychologists, social workers and volunteer mentors to handle scared, anxious, unruly children and teenagers.
Please, let us use the SRO funds for this purpose.
The Lynchburg name
I understand how the person originating a petition to change the name of Lynchburg feels. I felt the same way when I first heard of Lynchburg as a Duke undergraduate in 1965. How unattractive if the name actually related to lynching. What I found, of course, by the time we moved to Lynchburg in 1979, was a city named after John Lynch who started the ferry along the James River, the site where our city would develop.
In the first nine pages of James M. Elson’s book, “Lynchburg, Virginia, The First Two Hundred Years (1786-1986),” the reader learns that “there is no evidence that a lynching ever took place in Lynchburg.”
In Lynchburg, Tennessee, the origin of the name is unclear, but may be named after an early resident, Tom Lynch, or was a name suggested by an early settler after his native home, Lynchburg, Virginia.
Lynchburg, South Carolina, is a small town (population about 400) along the Lynches River. There is a history of Revolutionary War activity there but its name relates to the river, not lynching.
George Santayana warns that “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” The history of our name should allay any tendency for its name to foment unnecessary anxiety or racial tension. It would be a mistake to change the name.
JEFFREY W. WILSON
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