Acts of violence in our schools by Active Shooters are increasing.
The shooters in these tragic events understand an important point – when they target innocent children – you get immediate attention by spreading fear and terror to everyone.
Educators have a difficult task as they themselves become the students – learning about new threats and methods to heighten child safety. Parents are challenged in new ways as they try and make sense of these violent and senseless acts – weighing the risks of allowing their children to attend schools with unpredictable risk environments. Then there is the student’s perspective – how do we explain to them why these shooting occur as we try to calm their fears and anxiety. How do you instill a sense of safety so they can focus on learning?
Our schools by design, are difficult to protect. Playgrounds, athletic fields and multiple entry doors present opportunities for access by criminals. Groups of students gathering in classrooms or common areas allow an Active Shooter multiple targets with little, or no advance warning.
Think about how our school safety models in the past ten years have transitioned from a generally safe environment, to one of unpredictable threats. The practice of a fire drill was the only organized and rehearsed plan of an emergency response – now, students have learned new phrases and new drills as they prepare for a crisis.
Lock-Down, Shelter In-Place and RUN, HIDE, FIGHT are the new skills that we are teaching our children.
Threats to our schools and children present unique challenges and require action. Student Active Shooters like in Columbine, Colorado or those from the outside like at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut require law enforcement, legislators, educators and parents to re-examine their preparedness and approach to this new crisis.
We encourage you to review your personal and corporate safety plan. What will you do when a crisis occurs at home, work or in your schools? Developing and practicing a simple safety plan when calm – can significantly reduce your risk and enhance your safety.