In light of the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, “Active Shooter Drills” have become more common and – in many cases – mandatory education in schools. According to Ashley Hoak, from KTVO – Kirksville, Mo., over 100 school related shooting incidents have been reported in the last five years alone – that is one school shooting every two and a half weeks. This chilling statistic reminds lawmakers, parents and school officials that something must be done to protect Missouri schoolchildren.
As of July 1, 2014, all Missouri schools, per the Active Shooter and Intruder Response Training for Schools Program, must include new measures in teacher and school employee training regarding preparation for an active shooter scenario. The new school safety plan must include, “a component on how to properly respond to students who provide them with information about a threatening situation and how to address situations in which there is a potentially dangerous or armed intruder in the school. Training may also include information and techniques on how to address situations where an active shooter is present in the school or on school property.”
As part of this plan, Missouri schools will have to conduct an annual four hour training and simulate an active shooter intruder response drill conducted by law enforcement professionals.
Proponents of this plan say that staged shootings are the best way for both school officials and law enforcement to learn how to respond to an active shooter incident. Rick Roberts, superintendent of Adair Co. R-1 Schools, has performed this training at both schools and sporting facilities in the district. Roberts also believes that in addition to following the state mandated drills, updating school facilities with new technology is key.
In wake of the events in Newtown Connecticut in December 2012, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has recently approved a report which outlines several recommendations and improvements for school safety.
The 256-page report, released Thursday, notes that safety and security improvements have many long-term benefits. The report does not, however, take into consideration cost of the proposed improvements. Despite this omission, the commission “does not believe that any of its recommendations are fiscally impossible or unachievable.”
The report highlights the following points in the plan:
- Adopt the all-hazards approach: The plan includes improvements and upgrades to all school grounds, including an extensive overhaul of the security system and “protective infrastructure design features in all levels or layers of school facility construction including.” This also includes access to viable communication with police, fire, medical, school and other local officials.
- Improvements should enhance situational awareness: Situational awareness can help teachers, faculty, and other staff to identify potential problems that could arise in a school setting. This will teach school administration to observe early changes in a student’s or adult’s behavior that might be a cause for concern.
- Schools must create a safe climate: Schools must strive to create a safe environment for children not only physically, but also mentally. This means promoting an environment that discourages bullying and violence and promotes a peaceful environment.
- Safety and security strategies must be tailored to the needs of each community and school: With individual and differing needs in all communities, school must consider what unique circumstances will affect them
- School safety and security standards must be regularly reviewed and revised: Schools have to be adaptable and work reviews and changes, if need be, into their standards and plans.
Finally, the report calls for firearm permitting and more resources for the treatment of mental health issues.
Read the full report here.
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