Going back to school on security | Klaas

Are schools safe for our children, educators and staff?

For the most part, local school district officials say they are. But no matter how safe schools play it, conditions, procedures and policies always could be revisited, possibly enhanced and better enforced.

Are national airports more secure today? Perhaps. Unfortunately, it took the 9/11 disaster to change the way we approach and use flight.

The horrific massacre at a Connecticut elementary school shifts the nation's focus onto our hallways.

As a reactionary society, several callers, readers and letter writers have chimed in and continue to do so. The debate continues on Facebook.

"We should have armed guards ... bullet-proof glass ... what happened to wired glass?" one parent said the other day.

"Let's put in a layered security system, alterations to windows and better video-monitoring capabilities," one dad added.

"How about a silent alarm if anything out of the ordinary happens at the school's front doors?" one mom contributed.

"Some companies used access slide cards," another parent offered. "Have fewer doors open to the public."

"Better gun control," one dad responded. "We have a right to bear arms, but not to use military-style assault rifles. They are no use to us. It's as simple as that."

While it is worthwhile to consider certain changes, there are those who suggest that adding more security, more locked doors, more scanning equipment will make our schools more like fortresses – and our students feel more like prisoners.

Armed guards? What if an unmedicated second-grader with a behavior disorder finds a way to get his or her hands on a guard's handgun? Cunning students today find ways to steal walkie-talkies from support staff and playground monitors, as if it were a game.

Regardless of the daunting challenges, some parents want change.

One Massachusetts family, for instance, is making an aggressive push to change the way we approach our schools. It has organized an online petition to the U.S. Department of Education demanding enhanced physical security at each school-building entrance in the United States.

A team of fellow security professionals has been formed to assist the family's efforts. The family also is leading a fundraising drive that would make safety alterations to all of the buildings in its school district, including an under-construction high school.

It's a start, a blueprint.

However expensive or inapplicable some measures might be, they are important steps in the way we reconsider and explore what our schools need to do to better protect students and employees.

Aside from a divided and emotional debate over gun control, schools need to take it upon themselves to further protect students, teachers and staff.

We all could do better. We should always remember that.

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