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Dealing with school security fears

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December 30, 2013 | 01:46 PM
Last year my school district experienced two weapons threats. In one, we moved to a lock-down. Classes cease. Students assume a position of safety along an interior wall. Teachers turn off the lights, close and lock the door and wait with students. Minutes tick by. Students sit on the floor, in the dark, willing themselves not to make a sound. Fear hangs thickly in the room. It is not a pleasant experience.

Schools are experiencing violence in ways previously unforeseen. During my first year of teaching, I was asked to announce to my high school class that a school district, not far from my own, had suffered a tragic shooting. In my first three years of teaching, 1997 to 1999, there were 19 school shootings.

Education is different now. While I cannot pretend to be an authority on individual rights or on causes of school violence, I can bring forth some considerations for parents and community members.

First, be considerate. Student safety is a significant concern for school employees. There are security procedures at all schools. Be aware of what the security procedures are and follow them. Do not arrive at the school in a crisis, demanding a sudden change in policy and procedure. When using a school building, follow their procedures without question. If you have a question, bring it up in a scheduled meeting with a building representative. Consider your children’s feelings.

Perhaps someday we will have a clear picture of how this violence is affecting our children. In the meantime, know that fear is a real companion to many students. Imagine attending school each day wondering if today is the day the bomb threat is real. Allow children to express their fears and discuss with them how to handle those fears.

Finally, be involved. There is much that can be done by participating in school activities, clubs, sports and events. By enlarging the school community with caring, responsible adults, we can better watch over our students and watch for any potential dangers.

Bad things happen. School is not always a safe place to be. However, communication with the school, community involvement and consideration of creating a physically safe environment can go a long way to creating a more secure educational experience.

Call is a Big Foot High School teacher.

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Walworth County