Shattered

Dec 15, 2012 by

Thoughts and prayers to everyone effected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School
I write this post with a very heavy heart, just sick about what happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School yesterday.  I was off and had access to the television all day.  Every time I heard 20 babies lost their lives I teared up.  Once the rest of the children realize what happen I don’t think all the therapy in the world is ever going to make them feel safe at school.

Schools I feel do their best to make their schools secure but honestly most fall very short.  In most schools there is a sign that says visitor have to check in with the office.  Some schools do lock their front doors and you have to be buzzed in.  Visitors are often buzzed in without verbal confirmation of who they are by untrained and very busy office staff looking at a 6×6 screen.  It’s also very easy to piggyback into the school if there is a person in front of you.  In no school that I have ever worked in was there a locked door between the office and the rest of the school.  Basically once someone is in a school they could go anywhere.

Newer schools might have a better set up with cameras and newer security systems but older schools just were not designed anticipating this type of concern.  Schools were designed to make it easy for staff and students to access the office.

When I first started teaching all we ever had to practice is fire drills.  Today that’s a no brainer, you line up the kids and take them outside.  Lockdown procedures began for me about 5-6 years ago.  I took this seriously but also knew that they fell far short of really being able to protect children.  To initiate lock down an announcement is made.  Hopefully, a teacher is actually able to hear and attend to the announcement.  I could also see situations where the announcement could not get sent out.  We were asked to use our own cell phones incase of emergency, then told to slip either a green or red card outside our locked door to tell them if we were ok or not.  To me that was like saying “here we are.”  One day we had a power outage and the principal asked me to go around and ask the teachers to turn on their cell phones so they could be contacted, well over half either had no power or left them in their car.  Another school I worked at in an urban area as recently as 2 years ago didn’t even know what I was talking about when I asked about their lock down procedures.  Even something as simple as everyone having a good functioning room key to lock doors is often a complicated procedure in school systems.  Security seems to depend greatly on the beliefs and efforts of the school system and local law enforcement.

Sadly it is doubtful that anyone other than law enforcement could have stopped this monster from getting into the school and killing these children.  If he didn’t have access to guns he would have found another way.  In the days to come we might find out why he did this or if he was showing any behavior that could have indicated he was capable of this.  Was this a planned or spontaneous act.  Is it even going to matter unless we are able to identify these individuals and intervene.  Is that even possible?

Every school system in America is thinking about how they should improve their school security this morning.  I’m almost sure that in the long run little will be done to make schools safer.  Schools will talk about it at every school committee meeting, some will hire consultants, a few will put new or updated procedures in place, a select few will actually make the expensive changes needed that will actually be somewhat effective.  Part of the problem with this is that most communities do not want to believe something this tragic can happen there.  Especially communities where many don’t even feel they have to lock their doors.  Administrators with no security training or never having even experienced living in areas where crime is an issue are not equipped to make security decisions or plans.  Law enforcement needs to step in and design the security for school buildings.  In many situations I am not confident that local law enforcement will even take it seriously enough.

I can’t even imagine the grief Newtown Ct. is feeling today.  This is no doubt a parents, teachers, first responders, community and even nations worse nightmare come true.  My condolences and prayers go out to everyone directly effected by this horrible tragedy. I am so sorry this happened.

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