Huge iron gates now surround the perimeter of my children’s neighborhood elementary school and a police officer is on campus every day. Plus, anyone coming in during school hours must be buzzed in via a fancy new security system. This should make me feel good that my kids are safe and secure, right? Instead it just kind of makes me sad.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about the safety and security of the place where my children spend six hours a day, five days a week. I want them to feel like they are in a safe environment when they are on campus and no longer in my care. It just makes me long for a simpler time when security gates around an elementary school were unheard of because violent acts upon a school and its students just didn’t happen.
I love our kids’ school. It’s only blocks from our house, the staff, principal and teachers are all amazing and they focus on Core Knowledge — despite the controversy about it, I’m a fan. Over the summer, the iron gates began to go up. But I just don’t know if any precaution is enough to keep our kids safe if someone really wanted to hurt them despite these security measures and ones I may not even know about.
I think of all the school violence and shootings that have occurred over the years: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook. They all break my heart. It’s shocking and unnerving to me that teenagers and young adults can be disturbed enough to want to shoot their own peers and even young children in a mass capacity. Would gates have thwarted the plans of these deranged or mentally ill murderers? I think not. In these instances, the attackers planned out their massacres for months, even up to a year in advance. They knew what they wanted to do.
And, in fact, security gates and a security system with a buzz-in requirement certainly didn’t stop Adam Lanza from busting into Sandy Hook Elementary. In each of these horrific instances, the killers took their own lives after stealing the lives of innocent others. If a madman wants to get onto a campus and kill people, they are going to do so — regardless of the obstacles. They have no fear of repercussion as they are planning on killing themselves anyway. At that point, they have nothing to lose.
I don’t hate the fact that the administration at my kids’ school is taking steps toward making the campus safer. Of course I want the utmost protection for my children every time they leave my sight. But I hate that violence has to encroach upon my fantasy of giving my kids a carefree life without fear of predators lurking in so many supposedly safe places — like their school.