Ohio school shooting warrants a closer look at school safety programs-Americans woke up this morning to face another tragic school shooting. According to CNN, five students were shot in an Ohio school rampage, two of them were fatally injured. Parents across the nation are both saddened and stunned by the escalation of school violence in recent years. Although there has been no news released as to the motive for the shootings, the incident warrants another serious look at school safety programs. www.cnn.com
There is a growing concern about school violence. According to the U.S National Center for Education Statistics, school violence is a serious problem. In 2007, the latest year for which comprehensive data was available, a nationwide survey conducted biennially by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) involving U.S. high school students, found that 5.9% of students carried a weapon (e.g. gun, knife, etc.) on school property. The rate was three times higher in males than females. 7.8% of high school students reported having been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property at least once, the rate was significantly higher in males. 12.4% of students had been in a physical fight on school property at least once. 5.5% of students reported that because they did not feel safe, they did not go to school on at least one day. Those rates for males and females were approximately equal.
School Violence hits close to home
In San Diego, on March 22, 2001 four students and two teachers were wounded during a shooting at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, California, none of the injuries were life-threatening. One of the wounded students, 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, was the alleged assailant. The shooting took place in a San Diego suburb just seven miles from a March 5th high school shooting. Another incident of school violence occurred on Jan. 29, 1979. Brenda Spencer, a 16 year old, opened fire with a .22-caliber rifle on an elementary school across the street from her San Diego, California home. She killed two people and wounded seven.
Due to the rising number of violent acts in schools, law enforcement has taken steps to ensure school safety. Cops In Schools (CIS), a grant program, is designed to help law enforcement agencies hire new, additional school resource officers (SROs) to engage in community policing in and around primary and secondary schools. CIS provides an incentive for law enforcement agencies to build collaborative partnerships with the school community and to use community policing efforts to combat school violence. For more information visit www.cops.usdoj.gov
Another safety precaution that was implemented by law enforcement in San Diego is the placement of Crisis Response Boxes (CRBs). The boxes are located at school sites and child development centers. Each CRB contains a comprehensive school safety plan for all emergency responses. In an emergency situation, the principal or trained designee opens and follows the instructions in the program. The safety plan is revised annually by the principal and is reviewed by the police services office.
Additionally, a total school lockdown is enforced during an emergency situation. If a crime is suspected in an area close to a school, students are placed under “lockdown.” During a lockdown, all school doors and windows are locked and all students and staff remain in their classrooms or offices. No one is permitted to leave the school and no one, including parents, is allowed on campus. For more information on school safety programs visit the San Diego Unified School District.