Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A different sort of drill: school safety post-Newtown

These days, school kids are used to drills. My own are regularly put through earthquake and fire drills. Get down low and go go go ... that sort of thing.

Today I heard that they will be learning some new skills in the coming months, a different type of drill that will no doubt be given a euphemistic name to avoid raising already elevated anxiety levels.

If a person were to attack the school with a semiautomatic weapon while the children were outside - at recess or lunch or PE - they will learn to run in random zig zag formations rather than straight lines. Apparently this is the best way to avoid bullets. I cannot fathom how any child will have the presence of mind to remember how to run, let alone breathe, in such circumstances.

Visitor passes will be strictly enforced, windows covered, doors locked from the inside, hiding places planned out in advance. Teachers will be trained to literally flip their classrooms, a reference to the making of barricades out of tables rather than the latest educational pedagogy.

Parents wondered if there were new technologies, perhaps an app (it is Silicon Valley), that could work as a more efficient warning system; security cameras were suggested, an idea that was knocked down with the chilling suggestion that these could be used by a perpetrator to better locate victims; and finally the idea of funding an actual security guard was raised.

I spoke. I tried to be calm but I wanted to scream "It's the guns, stupid".

I left the meeting shaken rather than reassured. While glad that our school district is taking these threats very seriously, all the while pointing out how unlikely such a tragedy is, post-Newtown the illusion of safety has been shattered.

We should all feel ashamed that it has taken the massacre of twenty children from what has been described as an idyllic town - read white and well off - to wake up. But now that we have woken up, now that there is real momentum, there is no turning back.


  1. I really don't know what to say - and scared that this is the school and education system that my grandchildren will have to grow up in.

    Of course, I went through school in the cold war era and we learned how to "protect ourselves" from a nuclear weapon, but this is much more personal (for lack of a better word.) and real (?)

  2. I've no words, Michelle. I just cannot imagine how that would feel. But as long as there are voices like yours, there is hope for change. I applaud you, I really do.

    1. Thank you. I am a tiny voice but I think there are multitudes with the same thoughts on this subject (not to mention a whole nation of them in oz).
      Michelle x