The Washington Post reported that a 14-year-old boy was wounded outside an Atlanta middle school Thursday afternoon and a fellow student was in custody as a suspect. Most parents send their children to school everyday and feel confident that they will be safe and come home, but lately because of the several recent school schootings that have occured, some are beginning to doubt their child's safety. Laquanda Pittman, mother of a six-grade boy at the school, said “As a parent, you just think you can send your child to school and you hope they come home OK."
Following every school shooting on a K-12 campus, there is no shortage of advice, suggestions, or demands for change. Not all of these approaches are practical or possible. Some are too expensive, not practical, and don't account for the culture of the school district and the community around it.
What is the right approach to take to ensure school security and violence prevention? With help from the 2002 "Safe School Initiative" report created by the US Secret Service and using the critical components of school security and violence prevention: safety planning, finetuning existing policies, installing cost-effective security devices, creating District-led Threat Assessment Teams, and using real-time threat management protocols a list of 10 security tools for school violence prevention has been created. Here are the 10 must haves for our K-12 schools:
1. Hire more school counselors (trained in threat assessment and response).
2. Parental involvement (in school security and behavioral concerns).
3. Gun safety education (for kids, and urging that parents use trigger locks and safes).
4. Gold Star Program (reaching out to those kids who have fallen through the cracks).
5. Anonymous tip lines (for threats, pending fights, and other security problems).
6. Security officers and devices on campus (cameras, better door hardware, phone lines in classrooms, etc.).
7. Media plans (already in place).
8. Regular drills (evacuation, safe rooms, fire, earthquake, tornado).
9. Daily police presence (and student interactions).
10. A District-led Threat Assessment Team (who meet regularly).