Violence at schools is not a new phenomenon, despite the rash of headlines in recent years, in fact in recent days. The first recorded act of school violence occurred in 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan, when a farmer upset over losing the election to be town clerk, rigged a school with explosives – resulting in a tragedy that killed 38 children and six adults and wounding 58 others.
However, concern for your child’s safety at school shouldn’t just include worrying about mass homicides. School safety and security also involves addressing such issues as medical emergencies, bullying, illegal substances and natural disasters. In fact, the largest loss of life at a U.S. school occurred in 1937 in New London, Texas, when a natural gas explosion killed more than 300 students and staff. (It was this incident that led the natural gas industry to add an odor to its product to make leaks detectable.)
Further, a 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics found that students in grades 9 – 12 reported:
- Being offered, sold or given illegal drugs while on campus – 26 percent
- Using marijuana on school property – 6 percent
- Being in a physical fight at school – 33 percent
- Gangs present at their public school – 19 percent
And a study by the National Association of Schools Nurses found that:
- 68 percent of school nurses have managed a life-threatening emergency requiring EMS activation
- 86 percent of schools have a medical emergency response plan, but 35 percent have never practiced those plans
- 13 percent of schools did not identify authorized personnel to make emergency medical
- 72 percent do not have an effective campus-wide communication system
So as you can see from these data points, and as Chris Dorn, an analyst with Safe Havens International, shared with us yesterday during a really informative webinar, schools can’t focus on just one type of incident when it comes to emergency preparedness and response planning/management. With numerous threats – from the mundane blown fuse to the extreme danger of an armed intruder or weather disaster, it’s important to take a more holistic approach with situational awareness.
If you weren’t able to attend yesterday’s webinar with Chris, we invite you to listen now so you can learn about avoiding gaps in your emergency preparedness plans and technology infrastructure.