A Comment by Joe Lee III
Today school officials in Grenada, across Mississippi, and indeed, across the country, are facing a problem that has nothing to do with the traditional three Rs — school safety.
In the “good old days” school safety consisted of a crossing guard and an extra teacher on duty in the hall or around the buses to keep the exuberant little folks from jumping into traffic. The cost was small. Sometimes the crossing guards were even student volunteers.
Life was simpler then.
Nut-case violence has changed all that.
Our schools are still 99.9% immune to such horror, but today’s climate of legitimate-media saturation and social-media’s tendency toward exaggeration and fantasy has contributed to the increased perception of danger.
As terrorists have discovered, much to their glee, perceived danger is usually just as effective as real danger.
The problems facing our school officials are multi-fold. They, like all of us want our schools to be safe, but none of us want schools to be a prison.
Schools across the state are looking at:
- Adding armed guards = Installing or adding cameras
- Installing two stage, locked entrance foyers
- Classroom locks
- Metal detectors
- Special bus procedures
- Rigid visitor controls
- Eliminating backpacks
- Requiring transparent backpacks
- Other measures.
Few oppose any of these steps to make our schools feel safer, but one sad fact remains. If some nut is willing to lose his life to commit an act, it is virtually impossible to stop him. As security experts frequently point out to us, they have to be 100% successful 100% of the time. A bad guy has to be successful only once.
Some of the security measures create problems of their own.
If backpacks are eliminated, it can place a hardship on students.
Metal detectors are inherently unpleasant and time consuming — and expensive to operate and oversee. Will everyone have to go through? All the students? What about shoes, keys, belts, coins?
How much do these other measures cost? Education money in Mississippi is already tight, finding an additional couple of hundred thousand dollars per school is certainly no easy task.
It is a crying shame that one nut far away has made us feel it is necessary to fortify our schools.