By Erica Morse
Publisher, Victims News Online
Updated 9:30 p.m., Dec. 17, 2012
As children returned to school across the country today, parents faced fears, anxiety, and uncertainty, as they work to find solutions for keeping their children safer throughout the school day.
In light of Friday’s mass shooting which took the lives of 20 students and six adults, parents are becoming more vocal about protecting their children while in school, and are preparing to call some on the carpet for answers.
As early as Friday evening, numerous school officials, superintendents, Governors and Attorney Generals had released statements to the public assuring parents that precautions are being taken, planning is in place, and communication would remain open as educational facilities across the country attempt to prepare for similar situations.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today urged school districts across the state to review their safety plans and implored districts that have not submitted their school safety plans to make doing so a priority.
“Proper preparedness and safety in our schools is not just an exercise, it will save lives when seconds count,” said Attorney General Abbott, who is a board member of the Texas School Safety Center. “While we are saddened by the tragedy in Newtown, we can’t let another second tick by without getting school districts prepared to encounter the same type of situation in our state. My office will continue working with the Texas School Safety Center to ensure that every school district across this state has an effective school safety plan in place.”
While the schools review their policies, one district in Texas says they’re “ready” if a situation like the one in Newtown were to occur. The Harrold Independent School District in northern Texas may actually be the first school in the nation to allow a select number of teachers to carry guns, in a new safety initiative called, “The Guardian Program”. The district’s superintendent, David Thweatt, has drawn a mixture of criticism and support since his district became an unlikely “poster child” for school safety after Friday’s shootings. In an interview on Lubbock News Talk 750/KYFO-AM Radio this morning, Thweatt not only defended his position on the program, but told listeners he believes every school in the nation should follow suit.
These are discussions that many parents and school officials believe need to be had, but how much of the conversation should involve the students? While parents decide whether to keep their children isolated from graphic images plastered on television, all they are thinking about is what can be done to keep their kids safer while they’re in school.
So what is the answer? Christine Salzer, founder of Moms on a Mission, told Victims News Online she is “disgusted” at the thought of teachers having guns in schools as a way to protect students. “If we can’t trust the neighborhood watch guy with a gun, how can we trust a teacher and a room full of students?”, Salzer said. “Having a gun inside a space that small will only lead to more incidents such as Newtown.”
Joffe Emergency Services, the leading provider of emergency preparedness and response training for independent schools throughout the nation, provided some tips on the ways in which parents concerned about the safety of their child/children at school can respond to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
Joffe recommends that parents talk with the leadership of their child/children’s school about lockdown procedures. Best practice mandates monthly egress drills, internal classroom locks, an annual full-scale moulage drill, and a lockdown kit in every classroom.
Additionally, parents are encouraged to discuss these common topics in with their child/children’s school:
- The role of staff and faculty in an active shooter response
- Their school’s preventative infrastructure (locks, lockdown kits, etc.)
- On-scene best practice in the event of an active shooter
- Post crisis triage protocol
- Dismissal procedures and reunification protocol
- Serving on a safety oversight committee
As parents prepare for the discussions with their childrens’ teachers, school boards, and community leaders, the one thing most agree on is that now is the time for policy review, and plans should be implemented sooner rather than later.
For more information on Joffe Emergency Services or how to prepare your family for an unseen event, you may do so by visiting their website here.
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