Can our cubs protect themselves at school?
Since there have been a spate of schools shootings, from k-12 through colleges &universities, in the past few years, there have been10 times more proposals to protect our kids, even if they are adults at college. Ban firearms, put armed guards in the schools, more money, study the problem and tons more minutia. And being totally honest, most of it is just political rhetoric for the 24-hour news cycle & the next election.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever stop people from committing heinous crimes in our schools or workplaces. We can legislate all the new laws that we want, like the law signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in mid-October banning firearms from schools & college campuses, but then the knife attack at the University of California-Merced occurred, should we ban knives as well? But the one thing we rarely ever hear about is how our kids, cubs, can protect themselves in such a situation.
What should we teach them about protecting themselves while in class? Should they just follow the ‘leader’, play possum, or actually do something? And just as importantly, what should they do if confronted by another student with a firearm or knife in the hallway, restroom, or on campus?
School administrators won’t, or can’t, tell you their security plans. Sometimes it’s because they don’t believe it can happen at their school and they rather not even think about it. Others because they don’t want to let the ‘kitty out of the burlap’ & let their plans be made public.
One idea that I will advocate for is our students fighting an attacker, if they can. The idea is for students to throw items at the attacker. Books, desks, backpacks, & anything they can in an effort to distract them long enough to get away. The obvious drawback to this is that most people, teens and adults alike, have a tendency to ‘freak out’ over social media posts and other items. Do they have the wherewithal to not panic in such a situation?
The question then becomes; what should we be teaching our kids about protecting themselves while in class, one of the places they should be safest? Here are a couple of ideas that may be safer and more advantageous than the fighting back approach.
#1 is teach them the school evacuation plan. Teach, teach and teach more. Teach them until they are sick of hearing it. Knowing where to get out of the school can help save their lives, even with firearms being involved. And keep in mind also that in an active shooter event, you may not want to follow the prescribed evacuation plan, because who knows the evacuation route better than another student wishing to cause death & chaos? Think Columbine, Dylan Klebold, & Eric Harris.
The answer here is for the teachers to think of a different evacuation route other than the planned one. In a tornado, earthquake, or fire, then a planned route is perfectly acceptable. But in an active shooter scenario you need to go a different route than one the shooter would know. But always keep the cubs together.
The other scenario is what if they can’t get out, due to the shooter being on their floor or wing. In this instance they need to learn how to barricade the door to keep the shooter from coming in. As in most security events, the shooter will pick the path of least resistance to accomplish their goals. They know that they have a limited amount of time and want to cause as much chaos as possible. So making it harder to get into a classroom will cause them to move to the next room, hopefully.
The active shooter will choose the easiest pickins’! This means, if they are wanting to cause chaos then they will move away from a door that may be barricaded. Unless their intended target is in that room, they will move on. And in many cases they’ll move along even if the primary target is there, to look for a much easier target.
And never forget the power of a door locking from the inside. A door that can be locked from inside could also be a good protective measure to consider along with other barricade items.
Alternate Escape Plans:
Remember in your newspapers Sunday magazine, you’d see the ads for the rope or chain ladders to help escape the house during a fire? Why can’t we not utilize this same idea to help evacuate a school where a disaster or active shooter event is occurring? These chain ladders could prove useful in the event of any other disaster not just an active shooter scenario.
Lastly, an alert system code use on the PA system. When the main office hears of a shooter, there may not be enough time to alert the school over the PA system. Something as simple as ‘Red West 2’ could mean an incident such as a fire at the west end of the second floor. “Black East 3 could mean a bomb threat or harmful person in the corridor of the east side of the third floor.
These are just a few simple ways to help, and help themselves, save our cubs. And again, this incident doesn’t necessarily mean a shooter, a fire, chemical spill, or a bomb threat. The main thing is that we think in conventional and unconventional ways to protect them, because after all that’s what we’re here for isn’t it?
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear