How Safe are Schools?

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Since the 1999 Columbine massacre, schools across the country have tightened and updated their security plans to prevent school shootings. Yet, this recent Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy has more Americans questioning just how safe our kids are at school.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy

On December 14th, the lives of six adults and 20 children were cut short when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This tragedy has shocked the nation and started debates on how we can further protect our kids. This was further emphasized by President Obama’s emotional address. Obama declared, “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”

The question everyone is asking is: what should have been done to protect these lives?

According to current reports, Sandy Hook Elementary School had proper security measures in place, similar to that of other schools across the country. They had lockdown drills, a security system, visitors were required to sign-in and show photo ID. And they locked all the doors after 9:30 a.m. Other schools have used their security budgets to hire school law enforcement or invest in metal detectors and security cameras.

School Safety Tips

Now is a time in which schools are re-evaluating their security plans. In the months to come officials and politicians will be looking for new ways to protect students and staff from school shootings. New ideas have already presented themselves. ABC News interviewed former SWAT officer Greg Crane who founded a school safety program called ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate).

In the meantime, what can you do to protect your kids?

  1. The key is knowledge. First, how familiar are you with the security measures put in place at your child’s school? If you are unfamiliar or have some concerns start asking questions. The more you know, the more you can prepare your kids.
  2. Get the community involved. The safety of our kids is not up to officials alone. Show your concern and support by getting the local community involved. Bring up the question of school safety at the next PTA meeting. See if there’s anything that parents can do to help the situation.
  3. Talk. Lastly, protect your kids by talking to them about school safety. Be honest with them. Acknowledge that bad things do happen in school environments, but reassure them that you, their school and local police are working to keep them safe.