Are We Safe at SHS?

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After the Sandy Hook massacre on December 14, 2012, shock reverberated throughout the SHS halls.  A community just like Scarsdale had been brutally attacked, and 20 children had been killed.  Elementary schools like Sandy Hook should be a safe haven for children, a warm learning environment.  That day, however, the school erupted into a nightmare of fear and violence. Struck by the parallels between SHS and Sandy Hook and the vulnerability of these children, members of our community called for change.  In response, the administration implemented new safety measures throughout the district.  At the high school, security guards were placed at the building’s two main entrances and all other doors were locked from the inside.  Students were required to show their school identification upon entrance into the building.  But after a few weeks of the new regulations, the SHS community returned to its usual state and many of the safety concerns slipped from students’ minds.  Now, in the wake of another violent school shooting crime in Oregon, we at the Maroon are reassessing the actual strength and function of our security measures once again.  Are they enough to prevent a hypothetical school shooting? And, should we be satisfied with Scarsdale’s short-lived response to yet another atrocious crime?

While the safety procedures are meant to prevent violence from infiltrating school walls, these efforts have proved mostly ineffective.  Rarely are any students, including Maroon staff members, asked to show their identification at the school entrances.  Students often innocently grant unauthorized visitors access to the building by opening locked doors.  And although our security guards have become essential components of the SHS community, it seems unlikely that they would be able to disarm a shooter. Thus, we need to consider the underlying cause for our security upgrades.  Most of them seem to solely function to offer us peace of mind rather than true protection. Are we accepting a false sense of safety by embracing these minor changes?  Maybe we need to be reevaluating our security system.  

While many of us have made reenergized calls for security updates, we may not understand the implications of these hypothetical changes.  Firstly, by increasing safety restrictions, we would lose the open campus that we cherish, and the freedoms that come with it. With the passage of time, students would forget about their initial convictions and, instead, complain about the inconveniences of altered, rigid procedures. Secondly, an increase in security measures may also lead to heightened tensions and anxiety within the school building.  Many of us are satisfied with our current system of defense, which has just enough of a presence to offer us a sense of safety. Finally, the implementation of a tighter security system may continue to be ineffective in protecting faculty and students.  

Even though our concerns are valid and understandable, they often fade overtime.  In reality, new security updates may not be embraced by the school’s community, for fear that the communal warmth we currently enjoy would be sacrificed.  We at Maroon would argue that the current security measures sufficiently address our current apprehension about a future act of violence at SHS.

By Steph Strek and Sarah Podraza