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Drills, new security measures mark return to schools

school drill
Volunteer students participate in a mock emergency at Bresheer High School in Pittsburgh
Justice Department to grant $15 million to fight school crime


August 16, 1999
Web posted at: 10:20 p.m. EDT (0220 GMT)

From Correspondent Gary Tuchman

HIGHLAND PARK, New Jersey (CNN) -- Some schools may be safer this fall, thanks to volunteers who screamed and ran this summer -- in special drills to help school officials and authorities prepare to handle an attack like the one at Columbine High School.

"We will be able to respond. We will be able to minimize the loss of life," said one official at Bresheer High School in Pittsburgh, where band members pretended to be victims.

At New Jersey's Highland Park High School, administrators and faculty held workshops to talk about how to avoid making students feel disenfranchised.

"I keep reading that what creates stress is the inability to choose, the feeling you have no power over your environment," said one teacher. "If we want to get rid of stress, we have to give kids more power."

Some schools, including Columbine High School, now require students to wear IDs  

That view is echoed by the co-author of a book called emotionally intelligent parenting. Maurice Elias is also one of the experts who participated in a federally mandated guide to safe schools after last year's school shooting in Springfield, Oregon.

"We want to make sure that the emotional intelligence of our kids is put on an equal par with the intellectual development of our kids," said Elias, of Rutgers University.

At Highland Park High, there are no plans for metal detectors or security guards. But more and more schools in the United States are resorting to those measures.

In addition, some schools, like one in Hallsville, Texas, are now requiring all their students to wear computer-generated IDs.

"As much as I don't want to wear it, I will for the sake of the school," one student said.

Experts say it's important to note that most schools have been and will continue to be very safe places. But they warn that educators should never underestimate the importance of social and emotional education, saying that a student who doesn't feel part of the mainstream is more likely to create his or her own agenda.

Are schools safe?

Secret Service studying 'motives and behavior' behind school violence
June 21, 1999
Colleague of Columbine shooters arrested
June 17, 1999
After memorable ceremony, Columbine students embark on life
May 23, 1999

Columbine High School Information Center
Fact Sheet on Littleton, Colorado School Shooting
Columbine High School
School violence
Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994
Facts About Violence Among Youth
Violence and Discipline Problems in School
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