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How far do we go with safety?

Friday, January 11, 2013 - Updated: 5:51 PM

The overriding question is this: What do we have to do to make our school children safe?

The suggestions are many and include arming teachers, putting gun-toting guards in every school building, locking down vestibules with bullet-proof glass, and training teachers and staff on what to do during an attack.

The Sandy Hook shooting may be the 9/11 of school shootings.

After 9/11, our country had to acknowledge how naive our approach was to airport security and terrorism in general, compared with the rest of the world.

In the decade since 9/11, we suspect most of us feel secure when we fly. We expect, and appreciate, airport security and why it is there.

School security is a much different animal and we fear no one will ever be able to guarantee parents our schools are invulnerable to some madman with a weapon.

So what do we do?

There needs to be a balanced approach to school security. As much as every one of us wants to immediately make sure our babies are 100 percent safe while on school grounds, we may need to be prudent.

Addressing the issue could come with a price tag in the millions, which couldn't come at a worse time for our school districts.

We believe more stringent lockdown procedures need to be in place, and locked vestibules and bulletproof glass may be the most immediate ways we can improve security. They may also be the most cost-effective.

Unfortunately, most of our schools were not designed with security in mind. They are living and breathing communities within themselves, where physical education classes go outside, elementary school students still swing and climb on the playground and half the high school population participates in some sort of varsity sport after school. Schools are designed to be open learning and social experiences, like the real world.

We don't believe our schools can be locked down so they are 100 percent safe.

We don't believe armed guards patrolling the halls and grounds of our campuses will deter those set on creating carnage.

We don't believe arming teachers is any more a solution than making state troopers first-grade teachers.

It may sound crass, especially when we are talking about the lives of our children, but some of these security measures would take million-dollar investments at a time when school budgets are straining to maintain the status quo.

We have to ask ourselves if these measures will do any good. We have to ask if they are reducing the risk or are they just going to make us feel better.

At a time when doing nothing does not seem to be an option, it is still hard to know what is the right thing to do.

How far do we want to go with security? What is the right response for each of our communities? And is throwing money at the problem the best solution?

The sad reality is we will never be able to guarantee, with 100 percent certainty, the safety of our children.

You can lock them up, but at some point, they have to have recess.

-- The Post-Star of Glens Falls


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