In every school mission statement that I have read there is always a common ethos: “that every child learns in a safe environment”. I have noticed a striking similarity in these mission statements as they list safety as part of their first objective.
Are Schools Really Prepared Today?
In present time, school leaders should be ahead of the curve when it comes to school safety and security. Unfortunately, my experience as someone who facilitates drills at schools is a lack of school preparation for an active threat on campus. Schools face misdirected attention, budget cuts, complacency and denial. As a result, schools have drifted backwards when it comes to school safety post-Columbine.
With an alarming number of school killings since Columbine, not all states mandate lockdown drills. Many schools may only conduct one to two other “safety drills” (this can include not only lockdown drills, but natural disaster drills) per year, and practice fire drills once a month.
The many aspects of the cause and effect of mass killings need to work simultaneously together, not independently. Routinely training staff proper lockdown drill response, as they do for a fire drill, can lead to lower stress if and when an incident should occur. Practicing once or twice a year may ease the concern of some school administrators, but it is not enough. Administrators need to schedule these drills once per month for maximum effectiveness.
Implement an Individualized Plan
School staff must feel empowered to act by implementing an individualized plan in order to mitigate mass casualties at a school. School administrators are responsible for providing an emergency plan for an active threat. They also must inform their staff of the plan. Staff need to practice regularly and seek additional training to become efficient in active threat response. Budget constraints should not prevent our schools from progressing with school safety preparedness. Through grants, organized fundraisers, careful planning and working with members of the PTA to get the community involved, schools can take action.
I am extremely concerned that we, as a country, are becoming desensitized to these events. We are seeing news coverage regularly from somewhere in this country concerning a school or workplace violence incident. Tragedies like these are not going away and may continue to get worse. Be a driving force to push for monthly lockdown drills and training for an active threat at your child’s school!
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