The instinct to protect one’s progeny transcends even that of self-protection. Even in life-threatening situations, once the “flight or fight” reflex diminishes, concern for your children and their safety dominate your thoughts. I have worked with schools all over the world, sat on school boards, provided security guidance and assistance, etc. There is nothing more important to anyone with children than the safety of their little boy or girl.
About a decade ago, while assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Athens, an earthquake rocked our building in the middle of the day. Following standard evacuation procedures, the entire staff gathered in the courtyard areas. Everyone started becoming very agitated, and not because they had concerns for their personal safety. The American and local staff all had children at school. No one seemed concerned about his or her safety. They asked about the children, who were all in school at the time. Did I know anything? Had I called the schools? (Impossible to do as the phone lines did not work and the cell towers overloaded.) What should they do? Did the school have an evacuation plan? The level of panic over the thought of possible harm to their children trumped the self-preservation concerns in the aftermath of the quake.
Here in the United States, earthquakes seem the least of our school security worries. Mass shootings, stabbings and other lethal concerns make headlines weekly. What can be done to protect our children at school?
First, attitudes have to change. School Boards that refuse to install metal detectors, cameras and other defensive security technology in their school districts because it might “send the wrong message” must change their minds. If they do not, then replace them with members that have some common sense.
Budget priorities have to change. School resource officers need better training and empowerment to meet the security challenges of today’s school environments.
The arguments against screening students and faculty remind me of the arguments made against profiling. “We might offend someone, “It doesn’t work, “or, “It is humiliating.” Nonsense. We are inviting terrorists, crazies and copycats to attack our schools and harm our children if we do not make school security – real, visible, actual security as we have in airports and many office buildings – a priority.
My experience in Greece and assisting with school security issues for decades gives me a great deal of confidence that the overwhelming support for these measures would drown out any cries by the far left, or others with their own agenda, that these sorts of measures are unconstitutional.
Not all solutions require vast amounts of money. Hardening doors, minimizing the number of entrances through which people enter your facility, implementing simple access control policies and enforcing them, etc. will make some of these psychopathic cowards think twice before attacking your facility.
In addition, the price of cameras, alarms and screening devices has decreased significantly in the past decade. Top-of-the-line personnel screening devices, ones that have a high throughput and minimal false readings, cost about $9,000 or less each. Companies like ADT and Vivint, I strongly suspect, would offer great deals to school systems in the interest of promoting their products.
Just like with personal and home security, we need to make our schools hard targets. Can we protect schools from all threats? Certainly not. There will always be someone who, for whatever twisted reason, can figure a way to circumvent a school security system. However, we can severely limit the possibility of this happening by doing more to protect our schools and children.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.
As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.
Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.
Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.