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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Are we doing enough to protect children? What can schools do?



President Barack Obama laid it out starkly in his message to the nation after Friday's horrific school shooting in Connecticut:

"Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? 

"I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change."

The reports have shown that the elementary school had prepared for emergencies, saving lives in the process. But what next?

Hillsborough schools have announced they will add police officers to schools on Monday as a precaution. Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando schools planned to have counselors standing by for anyone needing advice or consoling. One Texas district decided four years ago to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons because of safety concerns.

"When you make schools gun-free zones, it's like inviting people to come in and take advantage," Harrold ISD superintendent David Thweatt told at the time.

What can really make schools safer, though? School security experts tell CNN that many preventive measures are known — things like single points of entry, reduced landscaping to eliminate hiding places, brick rather than glass walls — but often the resources aren't there to make it happen. But there's also the reality that sometimes there's nothing that can stop the person intent on assault: 


"There is not a single safety measure that anyone could have put in place at that school that would have stopped what happened," said Bill Bond, the school safety specialist for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "When you allow absolutely insane people to arm themselves like they're going to war, they go to war."

He calls metal detectors useless. Buzzer systems are just locked doors. Lockdown plans are important to keep people safe, but they don't keep evil out.

"In a school, your only real protection is kids trusting you with information," Bond said. "If they don't trust you with information and someone is planning to do something, it's a matter of how many will be killed before you kill him."

What are your thoughts on how to keep schools safe?


[Last modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 12:38pm]


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