Places where we all want our children to be
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A VIEW FROM THE BRIGDE
Parents were lined up down the street, cars jammed parking lots and intersections, and phones were probably ringing incessantly.
This is the knee-jerk reaction in small towns when someone hears of a threat against a school, either locally or elsewhere, and district policies dictating lockdowns go into effect.
Parents, of course, are most concerned about their own children and want to pull them out of danger, away from the places where they might not be safe from harm.
Yes, it’s true that there have been threats, that one or more people posted things on social media that might have been reckless or thoughtless, or that might have been directly threatening. Yes, it’s true that bad things sometimes happen on or around anniversaries of tragedies.
But what’s also true is that somewhere along the way – possibly in light of terrible acts at different places around the country – parents have lost faith in schools’ abilities to protect the children.
That’s why all the parents were there, after all. They were there to collect their children and take them away from the schools.
By the end of the school day on Friday, May 12, campuses across our area were reduced to student populations that could fit into one classroom.
That tells us how many parents had decided that school was the least safe place for the children.
It also tells us that whoever caused the panic, either by making an actual direct threat or disseminating a hoax, achieved some goals of creating massive disruption, collective panic, spreading fear among adults and children, and putting an end to instruction time.
It also tells us that when hundreds of parents descend all at once upon a campus and demand to pull their children out, the chaos that ensues is potentially more of a hazard than the original threat.
There are lessons to be learned from tragedies of the past, including the bombings of London police stations by the Irish Republican Army in the 1980s, when secondary devices would be detonated in the very places where everyone had run to get away from the first; an apparent absence of a cohesive strategic plan of advance and threat elimination at Uvalde in 2022; and the absolute failure by institutions or authorities to establish properly secure perimeters and restrict access to schools, military bases and airports around the world from the 1970s to the present.
Schools ought to be the very places where parents can know their children are safe, where authorities have perimeters under control, and where threats can be eliminated before they even reach their intended targets.
Schools should be the very places where we all want our children to be.
We certainly can’t be assured of the same safety in shopping malls. Even though those places have only a few entry points, access is available to anyone and everyone, and there are no proper security checks in the parking lots or at any doors, and all the shops inside have enormous plate-glass windows or no barriers at all.
Schools have eight-foot fencing (or they’re building it right now), ballistic glass, secure lobbies, camera surveillance, and fully armed sheriffs’ deputies on constant patrol.
No one with wicked intentions should be able to come anywhere near the children, and no one carrying anything even remotely dangerous or objectionable should be able to pass through those campus doors.
My property taxes are going up because the school district in my town needs to enhance its campus security. Yours should, too.
If it means paying for extra staff, if it means building more secure lobbies, and if it means installing metal detectors and having armed guards in the parking lots, then bring it on.
Bring it on now, and let us put an end to the panic, the mass hysteria, the chaos and disruption, the effectiveness of any hoaxes and the pervasive evils of ill-intended social media, and above all let us once again have faith in authority and institutions to take care of our loved ones.
The alternative is not worth contemplating.