Wednesday, Jun 26th

Last updateTue, 25 Jun 2019 4pm

You are here: Home Section Table Shout it Out Social Media Threat Heightens Awareness of School Security
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop

Social Media Threat Heightens Awareness of School Security

securityThis is the opinion of SHS Junior Jordy Love: Following a peaceful Thanksgiving Scarsdale residents were shaken by rumors of a specific threat to a high school student.

On Saturday evening November 24, a Scarsdale High School student received a threat via social media. That student’s parents alerted both the Scarsdale Police Department and the high school. This threat included gun violence and included the personal address, and phone numbers of the student and the student’s family.

The Scarsdale Police Department began investigating the origin of the threat. The School Principal Kenneth Bonamo alerted the Scarsdale High School community in an email on Sunday morning. Because the threat was made towards an individual and was not a general threat, he said that school would continue as scheduled with extra police presence added as a precaution the following day. However, later on Sunday evening students and parents received another email from the school that said that the social media post also mentioned bombing Scarsdale High School. As a result of the bomb threat, the Scarsdale Police Department had the county bomb squad do a sweep of the entire high school on Sunday night and continued to monitor the school building throughout the night until school opened on Monday morning. School proceeded on Monday without incident.

These events, although unsettling, demonstrated strong cooperation between the Scarsdale Police Department and the high school to address student safety.

But in my view, cooperation is not enough. Although these posts were later discovered to be “jokes” by those trying to gain popularity for an Instagram page, the threat to the individual and our community was terrifying. In this day in age, with gun violence and threats to schools constantly plaguing our country, it is important that all communities develop a comprehensive approach to keeping students and staff members safe.

After the shooting at Parkland High School last year, in addition to the multiple mass shootings across the country, students nationwide expressed frustration over a lack of government intervention by participating in the March for Our Lives movement. Marches were organized in cities across the US and internationally to promote gun violence awareness, support gun control and encourage people to register to vote in order to demand change. In light of the lack of government progress on gun control, I believe we need to find other ways to make schools across the nation safer.

Districts all over America have already begun to have security upgrades installed throughout their schools. Cameras and doors with electronic locks seem to be the priority. Unfortunately most districts still believe that a school shooting will never happen in their community. Schools tend to be reactive rather than proactive. Most school shooters showed signs or spoke to others about what they were going to do and little to nothing was done to intervene before it was too late. Districts need to make more counselors available for students. Staff needs to be more involved with situations and notifications amongst each other. Schools need to do more to truly provide safe environments.

According to Chris Cooper, CEO of School Safety and Security Solutions, “We have met with many districts that have spent very high dollar amounts with little return on prior security and protocols. One district told us they spend millions a year in security and have no idea what they get. Our company was formed because nothing seemed to change. We have former law enforcement, secret service, retired SRO’s, psychologist’s and professors involved within our company to provide a very broad approach to helping secure schools beyond just cameras and locking doors. What we find most is that schools are no better prepared for any type of emergency situation. Most teachers are taught to wait for further instructions after an event unfolds. The planning stage usually consists of a small group and anyone outside it doesn’t really know what to do. Lockdown drills are done with what a teacher thinks may work best rather than actually shown what is best. Some districts do not even include local law enforcement in the emergency planning strategies. Providing safer schools starts with the people in place already. See something, say something goes a long way. Offering anonymous ways to provide information is very helpful. Bringing awareness to students and their parents is also very helpful as we firmly believe in this approach. None of these events happened when the shooter woke up and decided to do this spur of the moment. They were all planned and discussed. When Parkland happened, the shooter was known even before proven by most everyone in the school. Even the FBI was contacted in regard to things he posted and nothing was done. We have our own campaign: Be Safe, Not Sorry… Reporting something saves lives plain and simple. In todays world we no longer have the luxury to just sit back, we all need to be more proactive to create safer schools.”

Fortunately, we live in a community that is committed to keeping students and residents safe. Scarsdale residents are largely unaware of the work that District and Building Safety committees is doing to respond to concerns of teachers and parents, to plan for possible issues and to conduct emergency drills.

This year, the Scarsdale Schools contracted with security and safety management firm Altaris and we now have a full time Director of Security on site. They have taken many steps including (but not limited to) reviewing and revising emergency plans and protocols, training employees and conducting drills. Last February, the community approved a $65 million bond and some of those funds will be used to construct security vestibules at the five elementary schools and enhanced security cameras at all of the schools.

Other security improvements in the works are panic buttons at the security stations, motion detectors that work in conjunction with the alarm systems, high functioning PA systems, required school personnel IDs, and many others.

Let’s hope that these measures are enough to keep us all safe.

Leave a Comment

Share on Myspace
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop