Students and parents alike believe that the confinements of a school campus are safe for them or their children, but how true is this? Although schools are mostly safe and have a decent amount of protection, there’s moments where this amount of safety isn’t enough. Schools may preach safety and protection of their students through many security measures, many policies, and more throughout campuses, but some of these have proven useless in many situations.
A moment in which all security measures and protocols have served ineffective was in a nearby elementary school, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, where an intruder was found within the girl’s restroom. Although this elementary school has set their new actions to help prevent this happening once more, the fact it happened in the first place alarms many parents in the district. What raises questions about the way staff at Thomas Jefferson executed this event was why, despite the fact it was reported before school hours, would they brush it off and let it escalate to that point, and why wait almost a full school day to deal with the matter? Fox News reported, “Parents said the school was never placed on lock-down and that school staff did not contact the sheriff’s department until 2 p.m.” Irritated by the inability of the faculty to deal with the matter in a way that puts the safety of the students first, the anxiety and frustration of parents have turned into pointed criticism, with many parents directing their ire towards the school's principal, Anita Chatterjee for the way she had the problem resolved, as she escorted the intruder through campus and it seemed as a lock-down was never initiated in the first place.
In recent years, school safety has become an increasingly important issue across the country, with the astonishing number of school shootings and threats skyrocketing. Parents, educators, staff, students, and other members in the community are increasingly worried about their safety. Despite many of the safety measures being implemented into schools alongside many protocols to ensure the safety of students, this alarming incident that occurred at Thomas Jefferson has begun to cause many people to question the safety of the campuses nearby, and school in general. At Mayfair High School (the nearest campus to Thomas Jefferson), some students have said how they sometimes feel like they’re incredibly safe at the school, but the moment we enter lock-down or any imminent danger we wonder: “Is it safe enough?”
At times, security feels too thin. Another student points out the fact that at the end of our school day, we have 1-3 guards at our main gates, but the side gates are fully unguarded. What could happen once an outsider finds an unguarded gate? I can assure you, they won’t use it to tour campus and look around; the world isn’t that way. Students are aware of ways to exit school before the time, they know where to find blind-spots from the cameras, they know advantage points around campus, but what will we do once someone outside of our academic community figures that out?
Our schools continue to be at threat of violence and the chances of crisis are growing rapidly. Whether it is something as small as bullying or something as critical as a weapon or external threats to campus. With many schools having inadequate security measures may fail to prevent or respond to events such as: Shootings, violent interactions, threats on campus, and more. We must train our students and staff to know exactly how to respond in a moment of crisis or danger, for many schools suffer from the inadequacies of a schools safety and security, and there are many ways to achieve this.
Strengthening our security team, putting all entrances into account, training students further in the protocols for lock-downs or active shooters on campus, and enforcing even stronger policies just to keep us safe is all our community asks. In a time of crisis, we won't care how boring extra drills or protocols can be, the moment we know we’re safe and not at a stare-down with danger, we will be thankful.