Making Schools Safer
There is a growing problem in today's society that it seems lawmakers can't address. The fact that there are so many school shootings in places where crime is not considered a major problem tells us something about the mentality of the attackers. As of now, it is unclear how the shooter got into the building and pulled the fire alarm to expose as many victims as he did, but it was a clever plan. As an adult, I have been amazed at how easy it is to get into schools during classroom hours without being challenged by any kind of security personnel.
I have been asked on occasion to pick up a child from school by a parent that maybe had to work late or had some other appointment that required them to be unable to pick up their child. All it took was a phone call to the school and the parent gave them my name and I was able to go to the office and request that the child be released to me. There was no one at the entrance to the school to stop me from entering or question me as to why I was there.
At Stoneman Douglas High School, the shooter was able to enter the school unchallenged even though they had two uniformed officers there on duty at the time. Both said they never made contact with the shooter at any time. This was despite the fact that the school officials said there was only one entrance accessible to the school. This is where the problem began. It has now been determined that one armed officer actually avoided the situation and intentionally positioned himself on the opposite side of the school where the shooting was taking place.
The next problem was the shooter was able to pull the fire alarm to get as many students out of the classrooms and exposed to his attack. At that point there was almost nothing that anyone could have done to stop the attack. He could have randomly shot students or he could have positioned himself at a place where he could pinpoint who he wanted to target.
So what can be done to prevent future attacks? Most schools now have drills that prepare them for such an attack. but what I saw really troubled me, much in the way the drills we did for a nuclear bomb attack did back in the 60's. There is no protection hiding from a gunman under a school desk if the gunman decides to go into a classroom. Just take a look at this video while the attack is in progress.
You can clearly hear the gunshots and people screaming in terror. Look how many children are exposed. This is no way to protect children from danger. We now know the gunman entered a classroom and shot through the door of another. When I was a child in elementary school, we had what was called a cloakroom where everyone hung up their coats and jackets. Well now every classroom should allot space to build a safe room that allows children and the teacher to enter and close an armored door to keep them safe until they can be rescued. Based on the sizes of classes of students today, they should be big enough to hold anywhere between 30-50 students. They should also have an intercom so the teacher can communicate with authorities during an attack.
I saw where one teacher hid some of her students in a closet. We don't know if the door to that closet was bulletproof, but I'm guessing it wasn't, so there should also be some emergency rooms in each hallway for those who cannot get to a classroom. This would also help police secure a building that is under attack, especially when it is a larger school such as the one attacked yesterday. Just look at the confusion and terror the children are experiencing as police officers enter the classroom and ask every student to put their hands in the air.
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Now because this was a fire drill, most classes were accompanied by their teacher as they were leaving their classrooms and the building, but what if it had just been between periods and there were students in the hall nowhere near their classrooms? This is where adult security has to take charge. Teachers need to be at their doors whenever possible between classes keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. This means schools need to adjust their policies to help protect the students. Although there may be one entry point into the school, each door may be used as an exit and an attacker may slip in while someone is exiting.
This brings me to the point of external security. Douglas High School had two uniformed police officers on duty. One should always be stationed outside to monitor and question anyone who comes to the school entrance. If I was coming to pick up a child, I should be confronted outside of the school and the security guard could have called the office on his walkie-talkie to confirm who I was before allowing me access to the building. There should be another security guard inside the school near the entrance as back-up to make sure that person goes to the office to wait for the child to be released.
At any door where students are allowed to exit the building, teachers can serve as hall monitors when they don't have a class or are not on break. There may be some schools where there are more than one classroom buildings, so there needs to be someone monitoring these doors as students travel between classes. If not teachers, then maybe some parents or retirees would volunteer or accept a small wage to perform these duties, much like school crossing guards. Equip them with walkie-talkies to contact security personnel if they have a problem. Of course this doesn't help if the armed security is actually hiding from the situation.
Trump actually suggested that teachers be trained and then armed to carry guns. I have yet to hear from a teacher that thought this was a good idea, nor did they want to carry a gun. Not only have we lost a lot of students, we have lost teachers trying to protect their students. These heroes gave their lives making sure students got to safety. That is a big enough burden to handle.
To some people these may seem like drastic measures, but most of the school attacks have been at schools where they may not have had any problem students or never expected this kind of attack. The sad part is we now know that many students complained about this individual threatening to kill them and he had been expelled.
They never dreamed that the drills they were going through would ever come into play in a real situation. A lot of the kids even said they thought it was a joke, but there are people out here who are not stable, and as parents we need to at least try to protect our children when they are at school and out of our control. We need to demand these security measures are in place in some form because what we have now isn't working.
There have been eight school shootings in seven weeks so far this year. The government isn't going to change gun control laws or even mention them as a possible solution, especially when the NRA is contributing millions of dollars to make sure certain politicians get elected. These are not foreigners attacking our children, it is their classmates. These are just a few suggestions to get the conversation started, but we have to protect our children by any means necessary.