The issue of safety and security for schools in the United States is a major concern for all the stakeholders in the education sector. Students themselves, parents, teachers, concerned citizens and the government have shown concern and intervention in proposing and formulating measures aimed at protecting schools in the United States. Several incidences of insecurity including massacres in schools have been experienced and this has awakened preparedness by the stakeholders to stay armed in preparation of any eventuality. This paper seeks to explore the state of the art security in the United States as well as the measures the US government has instituted to protect schools.
Newtown massacre is one in many examples of insecurity incidences that have taken place in the United States. Sandy Hook Elementary school is a school in Newtown, Connecticut in the village of Sandy Hook. The massacre happened o the wake of December 14th 2012 where a 20 year old one Adam Lanza sprayed live bullets on 20 learners and six staff members killing them at the instance. According to Rayman, one year after the shooting, the US states’ attorney could not substantiate or provide tangible reasons why the event occurred (TIME U.S 17). Only some uninteresting information is given such as Lanza was not under the influence of medication.
Despite some dissatisfying reports like that of Lanza, no one can ignore the efforts of the US government and the society at large in the efforts they have instituted to protect schools. The department of homeland security for example, has established a school funding program through which it provides grants for funding school security. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agrees that college campuses and Universities have been affected by disasters at a high frequency, and, therefore; a need to make the Universities and colleges disaster resistant (18).
The National School Safety and Security Services is a body mandated solely on making schools safe in the United States (2). This US body has for many years been relied upon to provide school safety due to their demonstration of understanding of the dynamics of the unique k-12 educational climate. The Agency also portrays cognizance of the relations of the community involved in school safety, emergency planning and security(2). The agency in addition provides guidance in areas such as,school bus safety, school security assessments and school security crisis management among others.
Apart from measures outside the schools, internal policies have been vital in maintaining security in the schools. According to Rochman Bonny, most of the schools’ front doors remain closed (7). Visitors usually sign in at the gate before entering into the schools. Rochman (4) notes that most of the instances of security lapses have been witnessed where such security requirements are never imposed. The arrangement of such schools is security unfriendly such that guests may enter up to the office without anyone seeing them.
In some school however, any guest entering the school passes through a series of CCTV cameras, in other schools the guards photographs the guest and produces a badge that the guests might wear during the time they are in the school. According to Rochman, security gaps have developed in the school security system and this is one cause of the Newtown massacre (4). Some of the government initiatives have gone into the grave serious among them being curtailment the schools security grants by the government. Reluctance by the federal government has been met by mushrooming of local initiatives through the local districts to boost and maintain security in the schools. National parents and teachers associations and the American Academy of Pediatrics have led the way in offering free guidance on matters of school security.
The economic sump down of 2008 in the United States is one factor that went a long way in disrupting measures of providing school security. Rochman (4) notes that rules are all over for protection of kids but finding the money to protect them is where the problem lies. Of late measures that do not require many funds have been favorable to most of the schools. Such include making outer doors that leads to screening points for visitors before they enter a school; and inner door where visitors cannot enter unless they are vetted.
Adoption of policies to fence all the schools is one new policy that has been proposed. This will mean that all school yards are fenced. This is a practice that has worked well in the United Kingdom. However, implementing it in US schools may be quite a challenge since schools have adopted an open-access philosophy in a view to foster a welcoming atmosphere and encourage learners.
To conclude, school safety measures have been in place in the US for decades. The policies are not being implemented fully. Lapses have emerged in various circumstances leading to incidences of insecurities. The government needs to re-awaken its reinforcement measures to ensure school security and safety.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Building a Disaster-Resistant University. New York. FEMA, 2003. Print.
National Safety and Security Services. School Emergency Planning. n.d. Web. 2nd Dec. 2013.
Rochman, Bonnie. School Security: Why it’s So Hard to Keep Kids Safe: Family Matters. TIME. 18th Dec 2012. Print.
Ryman, Noah. “7 Revelations of the New Report of the Sandy Hook School Massacre.” TIME U.S 25 Nov 2013. Print.
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