How has school safety changed in the last 20 years?
From the fresh smell of paper and pencil shavings to the gut-wrenching mixture of excitement and nerves, we’ve all had the experience of going back-to-school. Do you remember the butterflies in your stomach anticipating new friendships and challenges? Back then, that was the most of our worries. But today many of our children have a lot more to fear.
What has changed?
For many children returning to school this month, gun violence and safety are a major issue. According to the Washington Post, in the 18 years since the Columbine High School shooting incident in Colorado, more than 215,000 students in the U.S. have experienced gun violence at school. According to a recent Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), nearly 8 percent of students have been in a physical fight on school property one or more times. Nationwide, about 6 percent of students have not gone to school at least one day because they feel unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.
Just this week CNN recounted a series of devastating school shootings in the U.S. this year. In May, a 17-year old student allegedly opened fire killing 10 and injuring 13 at Santa Fe High School in Texas. In February, a former student allegedly opened fire with an AR-15 rifle killing 17 people and injuring 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. And in January, a 15-year old student allegedly opened fire killing two and injuring 18 at Marshall County High School in Kentucky. How can we stop this trend and better protect our country’s schools?
What can we do?
While it’s encouraging to see think tanks and media outlets reporting on these issues as they arise, our school administrators, teachers and students remain at risk. We can’t continue to wait on warring politicians debating the principles of gun rights. We need to take steps today to prepare and protect our schools as safe places to learn.
Despite inaction from many of our political and community leaders, many schools are taking a step in the right direction. They are preparing for emergency situations and conducting safety drills and creating safe spaces. Knowing what to do during an active shooter event is important, but working to minimize the possibility of such an event is just as critical.
What Vigilance Risk Solutions does for school safety?
For years, Vigilance Risk Solutions has worked with organizations to mitigate violence and emergencies through increased awareness, training and empowerment. As a result of our work, we’ve developed a three-pronged approach to working with schools and educators. The VRS approach is:
- First, we analyze environmental, physical and digital threats and vulnerabilities through a risk assessment.
- Second, we create a plan that implements emergency operations and policies.
- Third, we conduct trainings to empower school administrators, teachers and children to respond to active shooter and other emergency events.
Each step in our process is critical. But the first step is important to any school or organization looking to create the safest possible environment. Running a risk assessment will illuminate issues with security, access points, hazards and working exits or evacuation plans. When organization leadership takes into account both preparation and mitigation, they will help save lives.
School administrators, teachers and children shouldn’t have to worry about school safety. There are steps schools can take today to better prepare and protect people and assets. We can help. If you’re interested in exploring solutions that will help mitigate risks and save lives, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Depending on the size and complexity of your school, we’ll schedule a complimentary site visit. And we can quickly generate a quote and timeline for our work.