School safety is back as a front-and-center issue on the heels of the horrific Valentine’s Day shooting that left 17 dead and scores of others wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Among the dead were a football coach, athletic director, and 15 bright stars whose futures were cut short by a former student. While a national discussion takes place about gun laws, mental health, security, and other issues impacting the debate on how to keep our schools safe, state officials and educational institutions throughout the country are once again re-visiting their procedures to see what can further be done to stem such attacks.
Many schools in fact are seeing a rise in copycat threats in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, forcing closures and temporary lockdowns at some institutions. The Educators School Safety Network says it recorded about 50 threats a day on average since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. California leads the list of schools that have had an increase in threats. Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, and Illinois round out the top five.
In Brooklyn, for example, two 16-year-old boys threatened to open fire at their school less than two hours after news broke of the South Florida shooting, the New York Daily News reported. Police said that the teenagers posted two photos online: One showed a boy holding a rifle, with the caption, “We’re gunning down tmrw,” while the other showed a boy in a black ski mask, with a caption that read, “Don’t come to school tomorrow,” according to the Daily News. In the second photo, two fire emojis replaced the boy’s eyes. One of the boys was arrested at his home Thursday, and the other turned himself in to authorities, said the Daily News. In Hamilton, Ohio, police arrested a student at Ross High School who sent “a post on social media referring to the recent school shooting in Florida,” Ross Township police said in a statement. The student faces a felony charge of inducing panic and was being held at the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center, police said.
The wake-up call has been loud and clear for officials and schools to address school violence. In Florida, in response to the Parkland shooting, Governor Scott announced a multimillion-dollar plan to fortify schools, among other measures, to keep schools safe. His proposal includes “hardening” schools with metal detectors, bulletproof glass, and other enhanced-security measures. In New Hampshire, the state has established a new task force on the heels of the Florida shooting with the goal of keeping students safe at school. The task force, according to Governor Sununu, will improve upon current security procedures to enhance the safety of students and school officials. The task force is looking at improving the surveillance ability with cameras and at bollards, which are the large concrete structures in the front of schools where the doors are in order to prevent vehicles from crashing into the buildings. Public address systems outside school buildings will be added to provide alerts for students and staff outdoors. Out of New Hampshire's 668 schools, 481 have received an assessment for security funding so far.
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