Reader says: You can take away all the guns. The disturbed person will find a way to accomplish what he is thinking. Teachers should never have a gun in the classroom.

As a retired teacher of 45 years of instruction in high school and college, I must speak: Guns in the school are not the solution to the problem. Note: The disintegration of our culture is the problem of shootings in schools.

I started teaching in 1953, when students walked into the room and started their work quietly. We never had any trespassers in the halls. I ended my teaching career in 1997, when a young boy came to my class with a gun. Through the years I witnessed the dismaying turn of events that showed the students were facing severe problems within the society in which they lived. Instant information, transient family interests, exposure to ideas above their level, presence of drugs and alcohol, and relaxation of discipline in the home – all have contributed in some way to the dissolution of society, and, consequently, the youth of today.

Teachers are aware of the serious-minded and worried students. I reported several students who showed signs of mental and disturbing actions that were not in keeping with the school atmosphere. The administration would inform the local authorities who sometimes took action and sometimes did not.

What society should do is listen to the professional person and take immediate action. Teachers can spot a student who thinks differently from others – from their essays, their oral comments, their interaction with their classmates.

Rather than arm teachers whose minds should be on the learning process with the students, the schools should provide skilled nurses who can sit with the student and find the problem with which the student is dealing. This nurse would attempt to aid the student in finding an answer to his problem. If there is not a quick resolution, at least the nurse can guide the student to a program that will assist him in finding an answer to the confusion which he experiences. At this point, the minister, the policeman, the mother and father, a member of the family should step in and follow the outline set forth by the school nurse.

Mental health is the problem. In our society today we face challenges that once were not there. Money, mobile phones, cars, drugs. All are making it difficult for students to live wholesome lives.

Teachers as well as parents are in a position to either identify the student for the police or identify the student for help in a mental recovery center. Teachers are key. Parents are key. Society is the key. Our culture needs a close examination. Churches, schools, and colleges can identify. However, the best approach is through the family.

You can take away all the guns. The disturbed person will find a way to accomplish what he is thinking. Teachers should never have a gun in the classroom. Until we heal society and its woes, we shall continue to face unwanted actions from citizens who feel they are unwanted.

This guest column was written by Lois A. Askew, who is a resident of Niceville.