Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Safety Options

A terrible thing happened yesterday at a California High School. A 17 year old boy brought a gun to school. It accidentally discharged, and the bullet hit another boy in the neck, as well as a girl in the head. As a result, the school and the local police have decided to increase security.

This has been going on for years ... decades, actually. Long before Columbine occurred, security in public schools was a hot topic. I remember being surprised when I started high school (many moons ago) and found we had two campus security guards and one local police officer (armed). A few years after I started high school, we heard about the installation of metal detectors on some campuses in the LA area. At that time, my school went from "open campus" (we could leave school for lunch) to "closed campus" (no one was allowed to enter or leave other than at the start and end of the school day (unless they went through the administrative office. After I left, they took the lockers off campus (for fear students could store/hide weapons and/or drugs therein). Still, violence increased.

I remember when RoboCop 2 came out: the murderous drug lord in that was a 13 year old kid, and we all thought, "Oh, my gosh, that is so ridiculous!" Last year a 14 year old boy was arrested in Mexico and charged with being the most ruthless hit- ... um ... boy? person? employed by a drug cartel there. Life imitating art?

So we're going to, as they say, "hell in a hand-basket." What to do about that? How do we make schools safe again?

Option 1: Tele-commute. There are no schools. Everyone stays at home and has to log into each class live, via webcam (imagine the scene in Real Genius where all the students were just tape recorders recording the lecture being given by the reel-to-reel left by the professor, but substitute webcams and monitors). If a student disappears from their monitor for more than 30 seconds, they are considered absent, and absences are charged at $5 per class. Teachers get paid $1.95 per minute per student, but on the up-side, hospital stays are very short when you've been hit by a virtual bullet.

Option 2: Build 20 foot tall concrete walls around all schools, with doors that would make a bank vault jealous. Nothing is allowed to be brought on-campus. The official school uniform is a bikini for girls and a Speedo for guys. I know, it will suck in Denver in the middle of January, but that's the price of school security.

Option 3: Give up. Realize all security measures can be defeated (after all, a really determined thug going to the school in option 2 will learn to clench his or her butt-cheeks around that 9 mm). Any student using a weapon on campus is shot first, after which they are handcuffed and taken to wherever their medical condition requires. And isn't the fact that they are gunning each other down just part of nature's plan? It's just survival of the fittest, after all.

Hope some of this made you laugh, but I also hope it makes you think about what needs to be done, not in reaction to, but rather proactively for the safety of our children in public schools.

Until then, I think I'm putting my kids in Hogwarts. At least there the only one using Avada Kedavra is You-Know-Who.

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