School shootings have forced dramatic changes to school security

January 24, 2014

The increasing threat of gun violence over the past decade has led to a paradigm shift in the country’s school security measures. More schools have now indulged in tighter security measures, and several strategies are in place to keep crime at bay.

According to a poll conducted by NPR, 62 percent of parents whose kids attend elementary school believe that schools have enhanced security post Sandy Hook.

Security guard at a school

As schools turn into war zones, officials tighten the noose on security. From SPSOAUNION.

Schools are taking various measures to ensure the safety of staff and children: students now have limited access to school property, and the number of armed officials on school premises, particularly in elementary schools, has gone up.

In Rutherford County, Tennessee, all of the 24 elementary schools have been assigned a full-time officer to help organize an ‘intruder drill’ within a month of the school year. School officials in Marlboro, New Jersey have allocated a budget of $ 1.8 million to construct  “man-trap” vestibules at entrances, while schools in Tupelo, Mississippi  have more simply decided to fence the playground. Slightly more extreme, in Asheville, North Carolina, officials have installed electronic doors at all elementary schools along with panic buttons at the reception desks of 42 schools.

False alarms and lockdowns

‘Lockdown’ and ‘shelter in place’, terms that were once used only rarely, can be heard more often in U.S. schools now.

Lockdowns have become more frequent as schools coordinate with police departments to chalk out a detailed security plan. The slightest whiff of a security threat and students are locked in and rushed to the corners with lights off.

The BBC found 130 separate incidents of schools or college campuses going into lockdown between November 9th and December 9th, indicating a growing frequency of school lockdowns.

But, it’s not always the presence of someone on campus that causes a lockdown. Recently in Torrington, Connecticut, two schools went into lockdown because a woman in the neighborhood fired several shots in the wall of her home during a domestic dispute. And in Houston, two elementary schools were locked down as the police searched for two robbery suspects.

How parents are reacting

Frequent lockdowns draw different reactions from high schoolers and those in elementary school. Kids who attend elementary schools are more sensitive when it comes to lockdowns, and this worries parents who believe the practice instills fear in their children.

Sarah Green, mother of Jackson, age 5, said that Jackson plays the lockdown game at home. Rachel Hurd Anger’s 5-year-old daughter, Ella, has painted a red and yellow emergency button on her bathroom wall which she thinks acts as a safety blanket. Tina Steffensmeier told the New York Times that her son, Kan, dreamed he was killed by a bad guy at school. The school had conducted a preparatory drill the day he had the dream.

Older students, though, view lockdowns differently. Rebecca Grossman, a 10th-grade student at Watertown High School outside Boston believes the lockdowns are more disruptive than frightening, referring to them as “just an annoyance.”

While these heightened security measures are not what most are used to, security personnel are determined to leave no stone unturned. Police Chief Gary MacNamara says that security is taken very seriously and that police departments work hard to allay fears and make sure everyone understands the threats that exist.

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Category: Guns

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