December 14th, 2012 is a day that no one will forget.
When the lives of small children in the safe haven of their school were lost, the world took notice. Suddenly, you hugged your own son or daughter a little closer, and thought twice about sending them through the brick and mortar doors of education without multiple kisses. You found yourself more patient and more grateful. And afraid.
In your honest opinion, is your child’s school safe?
Unfortunately, the aftermath of such horrific tragedies so often involves law makers and government trying to take action – in the form of passing laws, to make people feel safer. For many people the opinion is that, school safety is not a gun control issue, not a security issue at schools, not even an issue of mental health. It is an issue of life, as we know it – and the shift in our society toward fear mongering and sensationalism. According to experts in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania, new, stronger, or better laws would not have likely changed the outcome of December 14th for the Sandy Hook children.
The truth is the world today is filled with crazy people. In fact, it always has been. School violence today – along with bullying are simply trending issues when the reality is that bad things have been happening for years and years and years. You just simply were not aware of them. Prior to now, journalists and news anchors were not on the violence bandwagon. But let’s face it, in today’s world violence seems to sell and creates quite an audience.
You, like most parents – probably took a minute to assess the safety at your school. Chances are good your school system sent home paperwork and a new protocol outlining some more security measures that they will be taking to keep your kids safe. And as time goes one, each school – and each parent – will slowly but surely forget about what has happened and become less guarded. Which in many ways, is a good thing – because being afraid to send your child to school or having a child afraid of going to school – is not a good thing for anyone. This isn’t to suggest that everyone should walk around with a thwarted sense of security when it comes to safety – but rather that our time cannot be spent living in dread and fear.
Plus, according to statistics, you and your children are at more risk riding around in your car than they are going to school. More kids are injured and killed in car accidents than in school shootings or during school violence. Your child has a higher chance of getting a rare form of cancer than they do being hurt in school. Your child is even more at risk of being injured on a benign set of monkey bars than they are being injured due to violence at school.
But of course, fear pulses through our parental veins and we want action, we want change, we want more – hoping that it will cover us with a very false blanket of security. As adults, even though the reality is that criminals will be criminals despite laws – we want something to make us feel better about keeping our children safe.
In the course of the last two months, many school systems sent home material outlining some new procedures and safety measures that they will be taking in schools. Nearly 2,000 schools across the United States asked for grants to install better security measures at their front doors, and the push to arm school administrators has come front and center of the hot topics of discussion. One such measure is to not allow parents of children in the system to come in and use the bathroom during school hours, or to minimize the ability of parents to enter schools.
And while it feels good to see that school are trying to keep our kids safer, you have to wonder if visitor badges and keeping parents out is really the solution to a school violence problem. Sure, as parents, we appreciate the extra effort – but it will still never be enough to 100% guarantee that something awful will not happen in our child’s school.
Is keeping parents out – when the doors are still unlocked, when the back doors of the building are often propped open to let in fresh air – really going to keep someone like Adam Lanza away? Many schools are lucky enough to have an armed police officer that trolls the hallways of their school. But is one police officer really going to be enough to thwart those than mean harm to children?
These are just measures to fend off fear mongering, to answer the sensationalism of mass shootings. These are just band-aids. Schools across America and government are handing all of us band-aids – knowing that all too soon, most of us will forget about the horrific events that happened at Sandy Hook, as soon as the hubbub dies down.
Still, in the end, despite the flaws in the system and despite the dangers that exist in life today – most people do feel that their children are safe at school. A poll conducted by news conglomerate FOX news reported that around 81% of all parents feel that school safety is not an issue in their district. Do you feel like your kids are safe at school? What choice do you have as parents but to send your kid to school with out buying into the fear mongering and sensationalism? Do we lock them in our homes and confine their lives ‘just in case?’ Do we turn our children into paranoid kids who are afraid to walk out of their own front door? No, we move on and keep living and hope and pray that something like this never happens again, even though down deep – we know it will.
What actions has your school system taken to protect children? Over all, do you think your kids are safe at school – or do you think your school system is still NOT doing enough to protect your children?