We have all seen the pictures and heard the stories. Another violent attack in our schools that causes our hearts to drop over more innocent lives lost at the hands of other students. While this situation is cause for much concern and anxiety, school administrators and faculty must implement a plan for security in the face of a threat to schools.
Many schools have come up with new security options that involve more armed security presence or even arming specific staff members to respond in the event of an active shooter. Depending on the state, however, there may be specific regulations in place. Firearms are restricted within 1,000 feet of a school in many states and each state has its own concealed carry law (www.brotherhoodmutual.com; 2018). School officials should perform due diligence in staying within the confines of their states' statutory requirements with regard to school security and the use of firearms.
Other aspects of school security should involve a plan that has been implemented and installed with regard to first response activities in the event of an attack. Policies and procedures manuals may effectively dictate how to communicate a threat internally and externally, who should make initial 911 contact, a rehearsed and consistent evacuation process, and who will be responsible to administer first aid as needed. Since there are various scenarios that might involve everything from a bomb threat to an active shooter, developing a system to address each of these scenarios is top priority for school officials.
Parents and students also play a vital role in maintaining a safe environment in our schools. First and foremost, being attentive to behaviors and changes in our children begins at home and there is never a time to let harmful activity and conversations that lend to violence go unchecked. We must be vigilant to monitor and convey any concerns to school officials. One such incident occurred in February, 2018 when a grandmother in Washington state contacted authorities with written details from her grandson of his intentions to carry out a mass shooting (USA Today, 2/15/2018, KING-TV, Seattle) and the young man was arrested before he could act on his plans. This was one day before the Parkland shootings in Florida where officials were warned and the shooter was still able to carry out the attack that resulted in multiple deaths. The difference in the two scenarios was the involvement and cooperation between the parents and the authorities. Students may also be able to provide information and tips for any violent behaviors that are displayed or discussed by fellow students. It might be more comfortable to look the other way, but the responsibility falls to all of us to participate in school safety.
The Department of Homeland Security for the United States recently implemented a logo that says, "If You See Something, Say Something" (www.dhs.gov, 2018). We all have a responsibility to work together to keep our country's schools, churches, businesses, and homes safe for us all. It is up to each individual to bear their weight in working together with school officials and law enforcement in carrying out effective school security.