What really makes schools safer?

Published 4:30 AM EST, Mon December 17, 2012

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) – Sandy Hook Elementary School probably did everything right. Its staff and teachers worked every day to create a climate that valued kindness and posted the plan for all to see. They had lockdown drills that trained everyone to stay low and quiet in the event of an emergency. A security system introduced this year required visitors to ring a bell, sign-in and perhaps produce a photo ID. After 9:30 a.m., the doors were locked.

And now it’s the home of the one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. Twenty children dead and eight adults, including the shooter.

Those who know the world of school security are already predicting what comes next: A strong reaction – maybe an overreaction – by parents, schools and legislators who want to take action. Politicians will be elected on platforms of school safety. Vendors will turn up with technology and plans to sell. Schools will rewrite their crisis plans and run extra drills.

It happened after the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999, and again after the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.

And within a few months or years, it’ll be back to cutting security budgets and fighting for time to train staff and teachers.

“The vast majority have a crisis plan on paper. It’s much more common that we find those plans are collecting dust on the shelf and they’re not a part of the culture or the practice,” said Kenneth Trump, a school security consultant. “I don’t believe we need to throw out the book of best practices on school safety. I think we do need to focus our resources, times and conversation back on the fundamentals.”

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