Relections on the Tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary

12.17.12 | Ralph Kerr | Comments[0]

Reflections on the Tragedy and Sandy Hook Elementary

                Our country was shaken once again by the violence that occurred recently at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In reflection many questions are being asked. Here are my thoughts in regards to these questions.

  1. Could the district have done anything else to prevent this tragedy from happening?

At this point no one knows all the safety measures that were in place or how well they were carried out. It appears teachers and students were well trained and drills had been performed to assure the training had benefitted everyone. The school was in total “lock down.” During the event teachers gathered the students in coat areas, which had been designated as “safe places.” Teachers provided assurance to the students that they would be safe. Students ran in an orderly fashion to designated locations a distance from the school once they were told to do so. If an intruder decides to shoot their way into the school the “lockdown” precautions are of limited value.

  1. What additional safety measures, including buffer zones, school resource officers, arming principal and teachers should be added?

Schools are designed to be a safe place for the students. Construction of a buffer zone will not prohibit a determined intruder from entering the building. While school resource officers have proved helpful in some circumstances unless there is one at every door they cannot provide a guarantee of protection. Arming administrators or teachers would be totally inappropriate. These people are educators not armed guards or policemen. If there was an incident and they failed to stop it, would they be blamed?

  1. Should schools spend more educational dollars on safety and security measures?

I hope communities and school officials will not overreact to this incident. While it is tragic and we all hope and pray nothing like this happens again, education dollars are already limited. There simply are not enough dollars to do much more in the area of security, although certainly what schools have in place should be reviewed and updated as necessary. According to national data 92% of schools either lock or monitor school doors. 61% use security cameras and 63% use electronic emergency notification systems.

Human minds and the choices people make need to be rooted in the common good not individual desires.

I believe there are other areas that should also be looked at. The entertainment industry has a moral responsibility to review the level of violence in the products they produce. The level and delivery of mental health services in communities also need to be reviewed and adjusted as necessary. The availability of “assault” firearms should be studied and adjustments made as deemed appropriate and necessary by all interested parties. All people need to be reminded of the value of human life and appropriate steps taken to ensure that human life is protected.

Finally, here are 10 suggestions to help children cope with this event as provided by Save the Children.

  1. Limit television time
  2. Listen to your children carefully
  3. Give reassurance
  4. Be alert to significant changes in behavior
  5. Understand children’s unique needs
  6. Give your children extra time and attention
  7. Be a model for your children – they will learn from your behavior
  8. Watch your own behavior and make a point of being sensitive to the crisis
  9. Help children return to a normal routine
  10. Encourage volunteer work, doing something for others.

I would add, pray for all the families involved in this tragedy, the first responders, school administrators and teachers, and the community of Newtown, Connecticut, as well as our entire country.

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