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The Halifax County School Board in Virginia rejected a proposal to ban students from possessing personal defense sprays on school property. Instead, the board voted to allow students to possess personal defense sprays, but prohibit their inappropriate use.

Michael Lewis, HCPS director of student services, made the proposal. He argued that the language change would make personal defense sprays a distinct part of the Code of Conduct rather than having them grouped in the category of weapons.

However, the board voted unanimously to approve a motion put forward by ED-6 trustee Lacey Shotwell. Her motion changed the language to say, “No student shall inappropriately discharge personal defense spray on school property.”

The topic generated discussion of safety precautions, especially for young female students. ED-7 trustee Keith McDowell said, “Young ladies need to have some type of defense. It’s legal to have, so I’m not voting for this [change].”

Vice-Chair Roy Keith Lloyd also expressed his concerns as a parent. “Personally, I want my teenage daughter to have this in her possession. I want my daughter to have some way to protect herself. If we found out [personal defense spray] was used improperly, then I have no problem with whatever punishment is deemed appropriate. I have no problem with possession; I have a problem with the inappropriate use of personal defense spray.”

Shotwell’s motion was adopted unanimously. It created a separate category for personal defense spray in the Code of Conduct, and allowed possession but prohibited inappropriate usage. It also removed personal defense sprays from the weapons section of the Code of Conduct.

A great victory

It is wonderful news to hear that the School Board in Virginia has taken an important stance on self-defense, ensuring students’ safety by allowing them to carry personal defense sprays on school property. This decision empowers students to protect themselves from potential harm without compromising their safety.

The board’s decision also emphasizes the significance of responsibility and discipline by prohibiting the misuse of pepper spray. This will allow students to learn how to defend themselves when necessary, while ensuring the appropriate use and storage of their personal defense sprays.

It would be great if all educational institutions emulated this decision, providing adequate training and education on self-defense and empowering students to protect themselves. This move not only enhances the safety of students but also ensures that schools remain a safe and secure space for all learners.

As always, be safe and be prepared.


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