Slow Down – Thoughtful Approaches to Enhanced School Security Work Best

As with other tragic mass casualty shootings at schools, there has been an avalanche of media coverage in the wake of the deadly incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Our senior analysts have been fielding so many media requests that Dr. Shepherd strained her voice last week.  I had to start declining national radio and television appearances after Tuesday to ensure that I could meet deadlines for existing client projects. 

Thankfully, things have slowed as the Christmas holiday approaches and we are now better able to handle requests for information from the school and public safety officials as well as from parents and the media in a timelier manner.

There are several important points we have been trying to convey through our media interviews:

  • A balanced perspective about the actual risk of death of school children from school shootings in relation to other deadly types of incidents.
  • The importance of using evidence, research and assessment-based approaches to school safety, security and emergency preparedness.
  • The importance of moving steadily with an emphasis on quality improvements in safety, security and emergency preparedness over moving quickly.  Building sustainable, practical and effective improvements in safety rather than quickly implementing what may be less effective approaches is important.

 As schools move forward to improve security, safety and crisis preparedness by re-evaluating access control, lockdown procedures, police staffing and other approaches, it is important to consider the use of a formal school security assessment to thoughtfully assess local risks, realities and resources.

MSNBC did a good job in addressing the understandable fears of parents and school officials.  Our video crew filmed and produced a short video podcast in one day last week that also provides a good perspective.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.