The attack on innocence in Uvalde Texas in a classroom of children is not just overwhelmingly painful, it has shaken our nation to the core once more.
In the days since the Sandy Hook school attack where students and teachers were attacked in their classrooms by an intruder, we have talked more about school safety and security than ever before. Many school districts have made plans, instituted new policies, and have looked to technology to keep students and staff safer in school. While this is good, it isn’t nearly enough since not every district has done what they need to do, nor has our federal or state governments provided the financial assistance needed to make every school safer.
There is no way to bring this topic up anymore without a feeling of helplessness and frustration. For the past 10 years, I have been teaching about school safety and security, writing articles about how to make schools safer, have run webinars on the topic, and have spoken on various radio programs all to get the attention of our school boards, administrators, parents, and government officials so they will take the steps necessary to make their schools safer, but I still get the same comment from so many, “It will never happen here.”
That phrase is what I describe as the most dangerous statement that anyone can make. You are wrong – it can happen at your school, it can happen anywhere, and unfortunately with the world we live in, the next attack may only be weeks, days, or minutes away!
Every parent or guardian should call their school district and ask if they have done the following things:
- Has the school received a professional Threat, Vulnerability, and Risk Assessment (TVRA)?
- Is the staff trained to recognize potentially dangerous students and is there an established intervention plan?
- Has the staff been trained to de-escalate situations before they erupt into violence?
- Is there a district-wide plan developed to identify students who don’t feel connected to their school or peers? One of the key characteristics of active shooters in schools.
- What technology is in place to keep students and staff safe?
- What kind of drills does the school run? Are they drills of value?
In the course of my work, I talk to many school officials who say they want to do more but don’t have the funding for a quality assessment or to upgrade equipment, and in many cases this is true. How can these districts be helped? We must demand that our state and federal governments fund these programs and equipment with easy-apply grants that can be obtained by every district. This will be costly, but what are the lives of our students and teachers worth?
I believe the answer is not banning guns for every citizen. We cannot and should not disarm law-abiding citizens who are exercising their 2nd amendment right, instead, we should consider how we can screen out mentally ill people so they cannot get weapons. Perhaps we can also enforce the current gun laws and enact them throughout the country, so every state has the same laws to follow. This is where we can find reasonable processes to help.
While the facts about the tragic events at Robb Elementary School are still being confirmed, it seems the killer had serious mental issues, and it’s been said he made threats and gained access to the building through a back door that may have been left unlocked.
A review of the district website showed that they took the time to consider safety – they had security officers, they had the technology, and they had plans, but all of that effort was for nothing if a door was left unlocked.
This is no time to criticize anyone as we don’t know the facts. It is a time to mourn the innocent lives lost that morning but we must learn from this tragedy and try to protect our kids from the next attack. I urge everyone to consider the aforementioned suggestions and to take action.
If you have questions or concerns, we at True Security Design are here to help.