Keeping Our Kids Safe in the Post 9/11 World
Recently, radio talk show host and CNN personality did a week-long special entitled "The Perfect Day." According to Beck and others, "The Perfect Day" is a coordinated, planned terrorist attack against America's schools to the tune of Russia's Beslan school attack, where terrorists killed students, teachers, and parents over the course of over 36 hours.
Throughout the week, Beck had a variety of guests ranging from security experts to moderate Muslims to Homeland Security employees turned best-selling authors speaking on the likelihood of such an attack (a not-if-but-when scenario) to how to keep our kids safe at school, and what would be the aftermath of such an attack.
During the last segment of the week, Beck had Kenneth Trump, an expert on school safety and security and Brad Thor (who has written the book "The First Commandment" about just this situation) tell us how to keep our students safe.
According to Thor and Trump, there are four Ds of keeping our kids safe:
Have an ARMED presence at school-or have cops drive by on a regular basis. Thor and Trump even suggest having the local police do paperwork in the office, just so there is a presence in the school if there is not an armed security guard on staff. The police need to work with schools to convince schools to implement a safety plan.
Parents, teachers, administrators and even students need to keep watch and don't be afraid to report something out of the ordinary. We need to trust our guts, and not worry about the possible consequences. If your gut says something is wrong, tell someone!
Have contingency plans to keep as many kids safe for as long as possible if someone invades the school. As a parent, if you hear of something going on somewhere else in the country (NOT at your students' school-we'll look at that just a little bit later), go and take your child out of school as discretely as possible (do not start a panic, but take your child out of school).
Terrorists have a different mindset and negotiating will not work. Terrorists are not on suicide missions, and their plan involves taking as many people with them as they can. During a hostage situation, we as parents need to insist the administration send in the police and SWAT as soon as possible.
Most schools do have security plans and security teams for such a situation, but they have only been brainstormed, not drilled. You as a parent need to call the schools and get the emergency information such as who is on the planning team, how often they meet, and is training done with law enforcement (less than 30% of school safety plans are developed with First Responders).
You may not get the exact step by step plan (and be concerned if you do-that means they'll give the plan out over the phone to anyone who says they're a parent!) but demand confirmable information that your school's safety plan works.
You also need to keep your student safe on the way to school. If your student rides the bus, you need to know your bus driver. Meet them as soon as possible, without holding up the bus route. Also, call the school district and make sure the school bus drivers have training in security and emergency procedures.
Think this is nothing to worry about? Well, here are a few things to think about:
All schools and school busses do fire drills on a regular basis, even though there has not been a student die in a fire since the 1970s (which also means the schools are doing something right). Most schools do shooter drills as well. Only very few (such as in Los Angeles) do terrorist siege drills.
Last winter, two men of Middle-Eastern descent (who were here on student VISAs) took a school bus hostage for over four hours before calmly walking off the bus to the waiting police. In Houston, there are more than 20 missing school busses, stole right off the school bus parking lot.
On Friday, September 14, a drug-crazed man forced his way onto a school bus full of elementary students in Seattle. He grabbed the backpack of a girl and told her "Let's see how much your parents love you," and tried to force her off the bus. The police arrested him.
And Homeland Security and those who keep us safe have video tape of those who want to harm us practicing taking a school hostage... and shouting commands in English.