Who is Safe?
Between September 26 and October 2, 2006, there were three deadly school shootings and countless gun scares around the country. To date, seven people (all but one of them students) have died. Six more linger on Death's door.
In my own hometown of Caldwell, Idaho, in a high school not two miles from my house, an unauthorized 15-year-old entered the school with a loaded gun with the express intent to start a fight. Fortunately, administrators broke up the fight, and the teen fled, leaving the loaded gun behind. The school was on lock-down for four hours while police and administrators investigated. The 15-year-old purported gang member is currently in jail awaiting trial.
This year, Caldwell High School-along with other schools in the district-implemented a new polity requiring students and teachers to have school-issued picture IDs visible at all times. This was supposed to be a security measure so one could know, at a quick glance, if a teen or adult belonged in the school.
However, as the school principal said on a news broadcast after the lockdown, "Sometimes the kids forget their badge," or don't wear their badge where it can be seen. According to the principal, all the administrators can do is ask, "Hey, where's your badge?" when they view a student without proper identification.
Nevertheless, there were no administrators or security guards at the door to stop this teen from entering the school during class hours, badge or no.
Idaho is now on alert, having realized the same thing other states have-just because we do not have the same populations as the larger schools in larger cities, we have the same problems. Some school districts in Idaho are forming task forces. Caldwell High School will hire a security guard, and may implement a security system similar to a swipe system, where the door will not open if you do not have a proper badge.
With the molestations and shootings in a Colorado high school, the shooting of a principal in Wisconsin by a freshman, and the execution of the Amish girls in Pennsylvania, the country is slowly coming to realize what others have known for a while-school shootings are not just a "big city" problem. In fact, most school shootings happen in schools in the smaller communities-Littleton, Colo., Jonesboro, Ark., Springfield, Ore.
But what makes two of these recent school shootings stand out is that they were perpetrated by people outside the school, not inside threats. Where, in the past, the quiet kid, the loner, or the crazy kids, were responsible for the death of students, now adults who have motives other than revenge are killing our kids.
So what can be done? Our current school safeguards are not working. Our children are at risk. Innocent seven year old girls are being shot execution-style over 20-year-old grudges.
We cannot ban guns completely; we have to trust our forefathers knew what they were talking about when they guaranteed the right to bare arms.
We cannot take every student out of school and home school them.
Some say armed guards in schools are the answer.
Some say more money is the answer.
Some say "Let's form a task force!"
Some say more metal detectors will prevent this from happening again.
Some say that it is because fathers aren't part of the family anymore and boys need their fathers to keep them in line. But what about the fathers who drop their children at the bus stop before invading another school?
Some say violent movies and video games are to blame. But how can this be, since violence has been used for entertainment as long as humans have been human. Watching the suffering of others, or causing it for "fun", has been around forever from public executions last century to the Roman Coliseum to even before that. At least today's violence is fake, and everyone knows it.
What can be done when adults bring guns, 600 rounds of ammunition, stun guns and butcher knives into schools? Are we supposed to lock down schools and make them like prisons?
Is there any answer except to pray for your children every day as they head off to school that they are safe?
When it comes to keeping our children safe, no one has any answers. Everyone has suggestions, but no one has any answers.
Statisticians point out that there are only 12 to 20 homicides a year that occur due to school violence. The odds are your student will never experience the horrors of a classmate bringing a gun to school. But are those 12 to 20 "acceptable losses"? This is not a big city problem, and I doubt big city solutions will make the problem go away.
If the Amish are not safe, who can be?