School safety — changes since Columbine

What has changed? What has stayed consistent? What works and what does not work?

School safety — changes since Columbine

Anakin Morales-Jimenez, Reporter

In light of the Parkland shooting in February, safety in schools has been a particularly important subject that millions have been considering and pondering about within the United States.

Although schools all over the country have been reciting and reinforcing their safety procedures with waves of violent threats coming in exponentially, there have been heated debates on the changes in safety and prevention measures within schools.

Notably, Stoneman Douglas High School has recently enforced students to use transparent backpacks so weapons cannot be concealed, and Blue Mountain School District in Pennsylvania has armed students with rocks in case of an attack.

The most prevalent measure that is being debated is if teachers and administrators should be armed with guns or not, an idea presented mainly by President Donald Trump. The question has become a highly controversial topic amongst social media with people for and against the idea.

Lindsey Paull

How has this conflict spiraled down immensely? What has failed to change about the situation of responding to school shootings?

The Columbine school shooting is commonly presented as the shooting that created the sparks that struck the idea of school safety around shootings, yet around two years before its date, April 20th, 1999, there was a different school shooting.

Heath High School, West Paducah, Kentucky— December 1st, 1997, where a freshman who was 14 at the time opened fire in the school lobby, which killed three students and wounded five more with the similar motives of mental disturbance and school bullying.

“People are going to want a solution,” Former Principal of Heath High Bill Bond said in an interview a week after the incident, “But there’s not a perfect, simple solution here. The solutions are hard.”

And the solutions are hard.

Schools, before the idea of a school shooting was essentially non-existent, did not used to have as many regulations as several districts nationwide today.

Here is a list of some safety measures that schools have implemented over the past 21 years:

-Metal detectors

-Security cameras

-Closely monitored doors

-Security officers

-The requirement of a clear backpack

-More heavily enforced safety drills

-Overall school crime prevention through awareness campaigns

Dr. Cheryl Lero Jonson, who graduated from the University of Cincinnati specializing in criminal justice, and is currently employed as an assistant professor at Xavier University, conducted a study titled “Preventing School Shootings: The Effectiveness of Safety Measures.”

The article itself requires payment to view the entire study, yet this is an excerpt from the abstract:

“Calls for something to be done to protect our students, faculty, and staff became a salient concern for school administrators, with many schools hiring armed security officers, restricting access to campus buildings, installing metal detectors, and training individuals how to respond when a shooter enters school grounds. However, many of these security measures were implemented with little to no consultation of the empirical literature. This failure to enact evidence-based responses has had fiscal and latent consequences that are only now being discovered.”

Unfortunately, as implied heavily in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and several other incidents, any method has a margin of error that is unpredictable and quite worrisome to consider.

Mead High School continues to use the lockdown and lockout drills as preparation, and security officers to watch the perimeter if there is ever, and hopefully never, a case of a shooting.