School security-- how important is it?
There's a mixed bag in the latest report on violence in the schools.
At least 21 people were killed at school during the 2004-05 academic year, a slight increase from the year before, the government reported Sunday.
The study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics does not include data from fatal shootings in Wisconsin, Colorado and Pennsylvania this fall. In Pennsylvania, five Amish girls were killed by a milk truck driver who then turned the gun on himself.
Overall, fewer students reported being the victims of violent crime at school or school-sponsored events in 2004-2005, the study by the Justice Department agency shows. Additionally, school-age children remain far more likely to be assaulted, raped and robbed off school grounds than on.
The study looked at violent crime against students over several periods.
The 21 killings at school-related events, between July 2004 and June 2005, targeted victims between age 5 and 18, said Katrina Baum, co-author of the 2006 Indicators of School Crime and Safety. Over the previous year, 19 people were killed.
It was not immediately clear whether all the victims were students. Still, the preliminary data indicate that students were about 50 times more likely in the 2003-04 school year to be killed away from school than at school, the report shows.
Overall school violence has shown a declining trend, although it has increased lately.
The study notes that four of every 1,000 students in 2004 reported being the victim of violent crimes, compared with six of every 1,000 in 2003. Researchers polled students between 12 and 18 for that part of the survey, co-written by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics.
Younger students were found to be more likely crime victims — including those injured by bullies, the report showed.
Last year, 28 percent of students polled said they had been bullied.
Also last year, 24 percent of students questioned said that gangs were at their schools — up 3 percent from 2003. The rates of fights, drinking alcoholic beverages, and weapons found at schools remained at 2003 levels, the report noted.
This year we've seen some horrific incidents: the slaughters in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, in Colorado, in Vermont, in Tennesee.
Last week we had a secret intruder drill, and the person found an open door on the side of the building and was moving about in the building for several minutes until he was finally stopped by an administrator.
Why does this happen? I don't know. I do know that we are supposed to have kids wear photo IDs, although we are not allowed, supposedly by the school board, to insist they wear them until they have actually arrived in their first period class, nor are they required to wear them as soon as the final bell rings.
I do know that I probably ask students where their IDs are at least-- no exaggeration here-- 40 times each day, including in the cafeteria. Many of the people I ask attend our alternative program, which is regrettably onsite, in which they are not required to wear IDs even though it is school board policy. Many of these students look like adults (and some look like they could play drums for System of a Down) and they don't get challenged until I see them. I don't know why they are allowed to ignore a policy that supposedly is so important to the security of our building. I don't know why I am the only person on cafeteria duty who asks kids to put on their IDs. I know that if I actually wrote referrals on these kids, that is all I would do all day long-- and no matter what is occasionally said, this would NOT be a welcome move from an administrative standpoint. Now in the first weeks of school, when I would ask these kids to put on their IDs, they would tell me that they didn't have to because they were in the special program. When I continued to calmly insist they put their IDs on, they said that they were told to leave them with their teachers so they wouldn't "lose" their IDs-- why this matters, since they never have to wear them, I do not know. So now, when they come to the lunch room, they are wearing temporary ID stickers to make the mean lady happy.
So I know that we could do a far better job on security in our own district. I just don't know how that is going to happen if we are supposed to have an ID policy, but we are supposed to ask pretty please every time a kid blatantly ignores the policy.