School security has been on the minds of parents across the nation recently. With school shootings in Florida and Maryland it’s easy to see why. I have a son in school and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned for his safety there. While I think his school has adequate security, the nagging feeling of “what if” still remains.
If you’re in your 30s then you, like me, were in school with Columbine happened. You’ve been a kid in a classroom who has wondered if a classmate was going to stand up and start shooting you and your friends. Those thoughts changed my life and my mindset.
I think we all want to know how to make our kids safer at school, so here are a few things we should consider to create a safer learning environment for everyone’s children.
Understand the Reality
First we need some perspective on what’s really happening right now. While it may be hard to accept, our kids are pretty safe at school. I read some interesting research from the Washington Post:
“The odds of a given child getting killed in a mass school shooting — or any school shooting — are literally less than 1 in 1 million. The criminologist James Alan Fox points out that since 1990, there have been 22 shootings at schools in which two or more people were shot, or well less than one incident per year. That’s less than one incident per year out of 100,000 public schools and 33,000 private schools. This means that the average elementary, middle, or high school can expect to see a mass shooting about once every 150,000 years.”
(Please note that I only wanted to share this portion of the article. The rest of the article I don't agree with or endorse in any way.)
If you’ve read my work then you know that I feel that statistics have their place. I suggest you don’t blindly live your life by statistics alone. This is merely context for us that school shootings may not be has rampant as the 24 hours news cycle may want you to believe. So let’s take a breath and focus.
Can a shooting happen at a school in your community? Yes it can. Can a shooting happen at your child’s school? Yes it can. While the chances of a child dying in a school shooting near you exist, the chances are remote. More remote than getting struck by lightning which is 1 and 700,000.
But we still need to make school security a priority because we don’t want any school suffering from a active shooter situation ever again. If for no other reason than to let our children know they are safe when they are at school.
Make a Local Impact
This past weekend thousands of people traveled to Washington to protest. Imagine what it would have been like if people all over the country had gone to school district offices around the country and talked to school officials and law enforcement. That would have made much more of an impact to keep kids safe at school.
The place to start making improvements to school security is by going and talking with school administrators. You and the administration have the same goal: a safe school where kids can learn. With that in mind ask them what the procedures are for security, namely an active shooter scenario. Then listen to what they say and try to help fill the needs the school may have.
The biggest obstacle facing security upgrades isn’t a lack of desire by schools and districts, it’s simply the lack of funds. To help raise money for school security, districts could consider raising the cost of admission to sporting and other live events. Raising taxes and shuffling funds at the county or state level will take too long. These funds need to be generated by the districts, parents and community partners.
The PTO could raise funds for security upgrades for each school. If the district decides it needs to equip classrooms with Barracuda Intruder Defense product, the create a fundraiser just for these. Who in their right mind would turn down a dozen donuts and the opportunity to make kids safer at schools? I’ll take two boxes!
See if you can partner with local businesses to help out. If you school wants to invest in upgraded deadbolt locks for classroom doors, then see if your local dry cleaners, doctor’s offices and law firms will help with the cost in exchange for a few social media shout outs. Community support goes a long way with local businesses.
I understand that each state, county, district and community is different. What may work for an elementary school in Utah may not work for a high school in New York. The bottom line is we as parents need to partner with schools to help make immediate upgrades to security.
Be Accountable Parents
Openly talk with your kids about what is going on in their school lives. Don’t discount any negative experience as a “growing pain” or just something that happens. Make sure your children are healthy in their social relationships so that any evil can be stopped before it can take root in their lives.
Talk to your kids about what they need to do if they see someone or something threatening. It can be as subtle as the odd behavior of a classmate or as overt as a weapon in a backpack. Regardless, let your kids know that they can come to you with this kind of information, you will take it seriously and they won’t be in trouble for telling you.
Some of you may even be worried that your child may become violent at school. Do not hide this information. Seek help now. Don’t let a day go by without trying to resolve this. You can be as brave as the parents of a Michigan high schooler who stopped their son from executing his plan to commit a school shooting. Here are a few signs that you can look for to help prevent violent behavior.
One of the most important things we can do to ensure the safety of our children in school is to pray for their safety. Make it a point to pray over your child as the bus drives off or as they step out of the car to go inside to start their day. Ask God to protect all the precious lives in that school.
Pray for law enforcement to be swift and true. That they would have guidance to stop those who wish to harm others. Then pray for those lost people who feel like killing is the only answer. Pray for intervention in their lives.
Lastly I suggest praying for America. We have a lot of negative, violent influences in our society. Pray for a positive change in what we see on television, hear in music and consume on social media. And pray for strength to be the parent that your child needs you to be.
For more on how to prevent violent attacks on our children read Parents: How to Prevent Mass Shootings. If you want weekly updates on family safety and home security, consider signing up for The Secure Dad Newsletter.
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