Saturday, December 15, 2012

Could Your Child’s School Survive a Threatening Attack?

Shock, disbelief and tears have flooded us, after the Newtown,Connecticut slaying of 20 primary school children aged 5-10 years old—and 6 of their teachers and principal.  Although it’s easy to be blindsided by the heinous crime that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, let’s ask ourselves if the same could happen at our child’s school—and what steps can be taken to prevent a similar tragedy?

Security
Is your child’s school “secure”?  By secure, I mean are all outside entrances locked (or gated) to visitors without security passes or security entry panel codes?  Although such a measure may not have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it would definitely prevent some crimes from happening.    

Screening
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Does the school office have a live video feed of whom is trying to gain access to your child’s school?  People who have a good reason to gain entry to the school could be buzzed inside, and others would be turned away.  A live video feed, although not effective for concealed threats, would make apparent any obvious threats like unconcealed weapons.    

Office View
Do all entrances in your child’s school lead immediately to the school office?  Does the office have a clear view of every person who walks through each entrance?  If not, what system is in place to prevent a stranger from strolling and trolling unnoticed through your child’s school?  From all the schools I have ever visited, this seems to be one of the major weaknesses in the system.  

Emergency Preparedness
Does your child’s school have an emergency preparedness plan in place to lockdown the school if need be, and how effective is it?  The same can be asked of an emergency evacuation plan?  The steps that your child’s school is taking in case of a threatening situation should be discussed with both parents and students—and students and teachers alike should regularly have practice drills on the emergency procedure.  There should be a special signal that teachers learn, either verbal (ie: Code Silver) and/or a special auditory signal to quickly classify and publicize the threat to the school body.

911Does your child’s classroom have a telephone to the outside world in case there is an imminent threat?  Do both teachers and students alike have permission to dial out to 911 if there is a threat?  It seems that many classrooms are merely connected to a Public Announcement system that leads to the school’s office.   A teacher’s cell phone would not be considered sufficient in lieu of a classroom landline.

Safety Equipment & Safe HouseDoes all the safety equipment work properly in your child’s school?  This would include the Public Announcement system, emergency exit signs and lights, and the fire bell.  Does the school have a “safe house” area, like a gymnasium with no windows and a door that can be fortified?  Having a safe house area in the school is essential for a variety of situations, not only for a gunman on the loose.

Stranger DangerPeople who are known threats to the school should be made public to all staff.  This includes people with restraining orders, those who’ve had past negative confrontations with the students, parents or staff, and those with a history of unusual behavior.  Students should also be taught about “Stranger Danger” and told to avoid all non-staff members that are present in or outside of the school—and to report strangers to a teacher.         

8 comments:

  1. Great post and some great things to look for in your child's school. I'm very fortunate that my son attends a school that appears very well secured. Unfortunately, that will only deter these mentally unstable people so much, but every little bit of added security helps!

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    1. Brandi, you are very fortunate that your child's school is well-secured. You are also right that there are always loopholes that will be exploited. However, there are so many schools that are just "wide open" with no deterrents in place. I hope that these security issues are addressed, especially after the horrific and senseless mass murder of the innocents.

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  2. I take the my youngest to playdates at a school, and I can say that not one of the things mentioned is covered at this school, anyone can gain access to the grounds, and the interior of the school. And im afraid that the older childrens school, is the same. I don't think people want to think that something like what happened in CT Could actually happen, and so they don't make schools a more "secure" place. I will definatly be looking into more safe schools, for the youngest, and will be asking the oldest, current school, what their emergency plan is .

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    1. Amy, many schools ask that parents check in and get a "visitor" pass at the office in order to walk around the school. However, this is on the honour system and only those abiding by the rules will follow...it is the others that we have to worry about.

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  3. I think the only access to my kids school is through the front doors. Where the secretary can see everyone coming in. I know this year they have gotten much more strict about people going down the halls. I have always gone to my child's classroom if I was picking them up for an appointment in the past. This year I've been asked to wait at the office for them.

    I just asked my children if the phones in the classrooms will call out, and they both say yes.

    One thing that does bother me is their school is new and full of windows, which is wonderful. But, it also makes them very visible. Their gym has a wall of windows to the hallway.

    I bet that alot of schools do emergency drills next week.

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    1. Country Mouse, City Mouse I too am hopeful about school drills next week. A lot has to change in order to make our schools safer for our children--and the staff there.

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  4. My son is finishing up his last year in preschool and we have been overall very happy with how it is set up. I am a bit worried about when he is off to kindergarten and how safe he will be at school. I know the staff and the school will keep all the kids as safe as possible during earthquakes, but I worry a lot more about strangers trespassing onto school grounds.

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  5. Over the past few years our School's here are becoming more updated and having rules in case of lock downs and other possible problems,we live in a very small community but honestly you are not safe anywhere.

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