Is your child's school safe? Defenders share what to look out for
Checklist for parents includes signs to watch out for
MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – Security and safety measures at your child's school may start with locked doors, but it needs to go a lot further than that.
Most schools are not prepared for a mass shooter. Parents should look into if the school their child goes to has an emergency plan, multiple trauma kits and if classrooms lock from the inside.
Schools should be safe havens for learning, but too often they are targets. Of the 65 reported shootings at schools last year, 31 were planned attacks that caused injury or death. Mass shootings like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and Parkland have changed the way we all look at safety and experts believe parents need to participate.
"We should be saying, 'Wait a minute, that's out of place,' or 'Something about that isn't right.' We report it and we let authorities take care of it from there," said school security expert Paul Timm.
Timm even suggests bringing a notebook to jot down safety concerns, like: "Does the school have cameras, door buzzers, locks on individual classroom doors?"
The safest schools have limited access, identification badges, emergency trauma kits and empower teachers to hold regular drills detailing emergency plans for evacuation, shelter in place and lockdown.
"Teachers really have to make an assessment of what's happening and then choose from a variety of options like; run, hide, fight to decide what they're doing," said Timm.
Many schools have anti-bullying programs and on campus counselors. Kids and parents should practice at home, too. After you note what your school has and is missing notify your principal and ask why. Michigan recently released $25 million in grant money for schools to help prevent mass shootings. Is your district getting its share?
"We're the seventh largest school district in the state with over 16,000 kids," said Ron Roberts, the superintendent of Chippewa Valley Schools. "This year we had a two hour training for our staff on active shooters, just to learn what is best practice, how people react in situations like that and how should you react."
Communication with everyone is the key, everyone's input counts because the best idea may come from parents of their child.
"You can't prevent everything that happens, but you mitigate things and it some cases that's what we wanna do. If someone gets in the building we don't want them to have free reign in the building we want to be able to secure areas and react appropriately to save lives," Roberts said. "Now is the time to make sure that students are involved. Whether they're teaching us about technology or reporting things to us or we're asking them about the value of our security measures," Roberts said.
Read more on the Local 4 Defenders page.
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