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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

School safety

Tonight we watched the news with our mouths hanging open while the newscasters told the story of the Amish school shooting. The Girl just couldn't quite grasp the story. "What could he possibly hate about the Amish?" she wondered. Honestly, I had no answers. They are peaceful folk, plain in speech and in lifestyle. They sent their children to the one room schoolhouse to keep them separate from our crazy hectic lifestyle. I don't blame them one bit. I would do the same if I could.

But what bothered us was the next story, which covered school safety in local schools. They chose the town of West Boylston, which is the town closest to East Bumfuck, if I remember correctly. Honestly, it's in the middle of frigging nowhere, somewhere near Worcester. And in the ruralist of rural central MA. This is an example? OK....

West Boylston High evidentally is expecting lots of bad stuff to happen at their school. They've instituted a lot of precautions, most of which seem to go completely overboard. OK, I could be a bit in denial, but really. They teach the kids how to hide in the classrooms, which have locks on the doors, if an intruder comes into the school. Talk about scaring the shit out of the kids. It's the 21st century equivalent of duck and cover. As one that lived through the cold war and the Cuban Missle Crisis and practiced duck and cover in my classroom, I don't think this is the best use of school time. But what do I know? I'm just a parent of two high schoolers, both of whom thought the whole thing was ridiculous.

I don't have an issue with a locked door policy after the kids are in school. In fact, my kids, when they attended the SSDS school (Jewish day school) here in town, had a locked door policy and it didn't bother me at all. I think the schools *should* be a bit cautious of who is walking around inside the building. But beyond that, I don't think it's helpful to introduce a level of anxiety to a bunch of already anxious kids by making them practice escape drills. I think kids are pretty wise about getting the hell outta Dodge if there is a problem. If schools are built with plenty of doors leading to the outside from each corredor, then high school kids can figure out how to get out in a hurry. After all, they're experts at sneaking out for a smoke or a toke, right?

I believe that there are nutty people out there. We've had 24 school shootings since August, according to the news. I'm sure plenty of them were benign, but the point is, one shooting is too much. Five girls died yesterday. Five Amish girls who were minding their own business in school when an obviously disturbed man decided to commit suicide by gun. Had the door been locked, the crime probably could have been alieviated. Keeping strangers outside the school makes sense. Teaching the children how to react to a school shooting is going too far. School is supposed to be a safe, nurturing environment. It isn't supposed to be a teaching ground for dealing with terrorism or whackos who bring in guns.

I think I'm able to talk to my children about how to be safe under scary circumstances. Today's earthquake in Maine (MAINE????) brought up what to do in case of an earthquake. My kids, having lived directly on a major fault line in CA, know what to do. They've experienced earthquakes and hurricaines. The school didn't have to teach them what to do. That's my responsibility, and I do it carefully and responsibly. I don't use scare tactics. I also do not want my schools to use scare tactics. Really. School is nerve-wracking enough for my kids. They do not need to be scared to be there.
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2 Comments:

Blogger hennymatt said...

So the schools shouldn't do anything at all to get kids ready in "potential situations" where say a gunman comes into the school and takes control.

Are you kidding me??? The schools need to do something, this is starting to become an everyday occerence at highschools across the country and the schools are doing what they can, I think any and all parents would be supportive of the school district in their steps to provide saftey in the schools to hopefully prevent such a situation.

I think you should teach your kids that this is very serious stuff and that it's far from "ridiculous"!

3/10/06 11:02 AM  
Blogger EmilyRoseJewel said...

I agree with you. I think precautions like locking school doors are necessity. I want my children to be aware of danger, but not to be fearful to the point of not being able to live.

I live in Alabama & visited Boston a couple years back. Loved the city.

3/10/06 9:47 PM  

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