New School Safety

May 11, 2011
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The increasing suggestion of metal detectors in schools has become a hotly debated issue. Officials claim that this act will reduce the chances of school shootings and other violent acts. But will a simple metal detector prevent an attacker whose goal, for whatever reason, is to take the lives of others? Luke Woodham, the assailant in a 1997 shooting in Pearl, Mississippi, said he would have “walked right through it.” If this is the attitude taken by potential aggressors, what can schools do to really protect their students?

To begin with, the obvious reasons of additional security measures are to prevent and prepare for violence, reduce all potential risks, and improve overall safety. To succeed these security goals, costly suggestions of metal detectors, random searches, advanced cameras, and the hiring of security personnel are always presented. Despite the additional physical security measures’ overall efficiency, a one-hundred percent guarantee of a safe school will never be possible. As examples, according to MSNBC, in 2001 at Lew Wallace High School in Gary, Indiana, a 16 year-old sophomore was fatally shot outside the building—in the absence of all school security devices—and in Red Lake, Minnesota, seven were killed by a student who’s high school had, not only metal detectors, but a security guard as well.

So the question remains—what actions can a school take to really protect their students?

According to a detailed study conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education, research has advised the following in response to an increase in school violence:

Encourage pupils to report anything they hear to an adult they can confide in; even if the rumor proves to be false, a life could possibly be saved.

Watch for signs of gathering weapons or making plans because attacks rarely occur at the spur-of-the-moment.

Schools should respond aggressively to bullying and other acts, as they are major causes of severe school violence. Officials should not only respond to violence, but schools should constantly be working to prevent such acts as well. The most difficult and certainly most crucial part of protecting students will be encouraging them to speak up for what they know is wrong or potentially dangerous. This, essentially, could be more effective than installing institutional-feeling metal detectors. Before we as a society decide to “institutionalize” our students, not only should school faculty take the time to listen and encourage students to stand up against school violence, but students should be responsible and willing to report negative activity among themselves and their peers.





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