Schools on the Alert: Desperate to Protect Kids and Calm Parents, Schools Are Using SWAT Teams, Banning Book Bags and Teaching Students to Get along. Will It Work?

Newsweek, August 23, 1999 | Go to article overview

Schools on the Alert: Desperate to Protect Kids and Calm Parents, Schools Are Using SWAT Teams, Banning Book Bags and Teaching Students to Get along. Will It Work?


It has been only a few months, but life has changed radically at Permian High in Odessa, Texas. Last May, when the dismissal bell rang out the old academic year, students were Jane and John Anonymous, and the closest thing to surveillance was a couple of security guards passing through the hallways. Last week, when students returned for the new year, they stepped into the new age of high-tech school safety. Every student is now required to wear a computer-coded ID badge. Seventeen surveillance cameras monitor the parking lot and school entrance. And "black boxes," some (no one knows which) containing cameras with audiotape, had been installed in some classrooms by engineers from Sandia National Laboratories, which designs security systems for the U.S. Mint and FBI. Permian, which has 2,100 students, isn't an especially dangerous campus. Still, "we're never satisfied," says principal Brian Rosson. "We're taking proactive steps to make this as safe a place as it can be." But can any measure guarantee safety? That is the question plaguing administrators as school doors open across the country. Overall, school violence has declined this decade. But the mantra "It can't happen here" was buried once and for all with Columbine's young victims. The recent school shootings have forced a growing number of officials to take sometimes desperate measures to assure parents, teachers and students that something is being done to deter violence--even if there is no consensus on the programs' effectiveness. The range of strategies is enormous--from installing metal detectors for guns to training school personnel to identify alienation and hostility before they spin out of control. "There's been a shift from general security to crisis management," says Pete Blauvelt, head of the National Association of School Safety. "The recent shootings have kicked the anxiety meter up 50 or 60 notches."

In their effort to prevent disaster, some schools are adopting a near-militaristic approach. Fire drills are mere child's play compared with student rehearsals for armed intruders. "They know if I come on the P.A. and say 'we're in a lockdown situation'... to clear the hallways, get away from the windows and get down on the floor," says Sharon Cross, principal of Schaumburg High in suburban Chicago, which instituted the drills last winter. "It means someone's life is in danger." The kids aren't the only ones getting ready. Local SWAT teams case the three-story building in the evening and on weekends, uncovering every last nook and cranny. Could a student hide here? Could a gunman flee there? In Pittsburgh, SWAT teams took aim in the hallways of Brashear High last week, staging a mock emergency. Other schools are installing telephones and even panic buttons in classrooms. Many are hiring security officers, some armed, to monitor the comings and goings of students between classes.

City schools, like those in Los Angeles, have had metal detectors for years. But schools well outside urban terrain are now buying the machines, too--at $2,500 apiece. At Garrett Metal Detectors in Garland, Texas, school orders have quadrupled since April, says Jim Dobrei, director of sales and marketing: "When Columbine hit, it threw our production into turmoil." But the detectors are still far from routine. Evanston Township High outside Chicago considered them, but decided they'd be too intrusive. It opted instead for surveillance equipment. The four-story building is now being equipped with 500 video cam- eras in 47 stairwells and 81 exterior doors. The cost: $1 million. "Some people think we're doing this to spy on them," says Kathy Miehls, an Evanston administrator. "But you don't spend that kind of money without a very compelling reason. In the end, it's for safety."

But some experts on school safety wonder whether the pricey high-tech route is the answer. Columbine, for instance, had an armed security guard on the premises. And although video cameras might help with deterrence, they're not going to stop a determined killer. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Schools on the Alert: Desperate to Protect Kids and Calm Parents, Schools Are Using SWAT Teams, Banning Book Bags and Teaching Students to Get along. Will It Work?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.