As a school administrator or educator you wouldn’t think that schools are safe based on the emails, solicitations and webinar invites you get on a regular basis regarding active shooters and school violence. However, the data tells a different story.
In fact, a strong argument can be made that schools are one of the safest places our children can be; they are generally safer than the communities they reside in. That doesn’t mean we avoid taking steps to prevent, prepare, and respond to active shooters and school violence; what it does mean is that we shouldn’t let it overwhelm or consume us.
We need to remember that there are many hazards that can face our schools; natural disasters, utility failures, bus accidents, hazmat incidents… we shouldn’t abandon a good comprehensive plan because we have become hyper-vigilant to the remote possibility of an active shooter showing up at our schools. Here are a few things to consider:
- Those of us involved in emergency preparedness cannot live in a continual state of “code red.” It is both unhealthy and unsustainable. You need to find a healthy balance between awareness and paranoia.
- If you find yourself in "code red," I would encourage you to take a deep breath, really look at the data, talk to your peers, and begin to move toward a more balanced emergency plan.
- Here in Pennsylvania we have identified 26 different hazards that face our schools. An active shooter is only one of those 26 and has a far lesser probability of occurring than many of the other hazards. Check PEMA's All-Hazards School Safety Planning Toolkit here for great information.
If you want to talk more about this topic, feel free to reach out and call/email me or respond to this blog. I’d love to help you arrive at a place where emergency preparedness is approached with a practical, logical, affordable, and healthy perspective.