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Despite ample school safety plans, Texas shooters find loopholes

 Despite ample school safety plans, Texas shooters find loopholes

Despite ample school safety plans, Texas shooters find loopholes

Rob Primary School has measures in place to prevent this violence. The school building is surrounded by fences. Teachers were ordered to shut and lock the classroom doors. Students conduct regular lockdown and evacuation drills.

But none of those things stopped an 18-year-old man who came to the school in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday (May 24) with the intent to kill the children.

Experts on school safety say lapses in safety measures led to the gunman’s massacre of 19 students and two teachers. In addition to spending millions of dollars on equipment and other measures after the earlier shooting, the shooting has sparked calls for further strengthening of the school. But more security also has downsides, and it doesn’t guarantee an end to mass violence. At worst, as in Uvaldi, it could backfire.

“You can do everything you can to prevent a crisis in schools, but we can’t understand what all criminals think,” said Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National Center for School Safety, a nonprofit that works with schools across the country. Stephens) said. “We can’t prevent all crime.”

Under a district safety plan, Uvaldi’s school has taken extensive measures to prevent violence. The district has four police officers and four auxiliary counselors under the plan, which appears to have begun in the 2019-20 school year. The district has software that monitors social media threats, as well as software that vets school visitors.

However, when the gunman arrived at the school, officials said, he jumped over the school’s fence and easily entered through a propped back door. He shot the child and the teacher behind the locked door of a fourth-grade classroom.

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Nearly 20 police officers were standing in the hallway at the time of the attack because commanders at the scene believed the gunman had been killed, Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a news conference Friday. Barriers block the classroom and the children are not in danger. “It was a bad decision,” he said.

Curtis Lavarello, executive director of the School Safety Advocacy Council, which provides school safety training, said the case underscores how even the most robust safety programs can be undermined by a deceptively simple blunder. He said the Texas school looked like it was doing a lot of the right things, but once the gunman was able to walk into the school and into the classroom unimpeded, none of that mattered.

“All this stuff on paper is meaningless if not put into practice. There seem to be some gaps here,” he said.

Following the shooting, some Republicans have been calling for greater investment in school safety to prevent more attacks. Some are pushing for more armed police in schools, installing metal detectors, and taking steps to make it harder to get into schools.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is one of those who advocate for stronger physical security measures. In an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday, he referred to a 2013 legislation that provided funding for measures such as helping schools install bulletproof doors and hiring armed police.

Cruz said that if those grants had gone to Rob Elementary, “the armed police could have shot him dead, and the 19 children and two teachers would have been alive.”

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Security experts say the Yuvaldi shooting illustrates the strengthening of the school’s security defenses may backfire. Locking classroom doors — one of the most basic and widely recommended safety measures in schools — keep victims in the classroom and the police out.

U.S. Border Patrol agents eventually used a master key to open the door to the locked classroom, where they confronted the gunman and shot him dead, McGraw said at a news conference on Friday.

Some argue that investment in school safety comes at the expense of student welfare. Educators say lockdown school drills have become a daily routine for a generation of American students, traumatizing students and increasing mental health stress.

Dewey Cornell, a psychologist, and director of the Youth Violence Program at the University of Virginia said schools need more counselors and psychologists to help troubled students, not tougher one’s architecture.

“We have systematically reduced the number of support staff in our schools, focusing too much on installing metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and electronic door locks, which are short-term, reactive, and Very expensive.”

Following the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, schools across the country began spending heavily on reinforcements such as bulletproof glass, metal detectors, and armed guards.

But such measures create an atmosphere that makes students uncomfortable and less trusting, and doesn’t necessarily prevent them, said Matthew Mayer, an associate professor at Rutgers who studies issues related to school violence. attack.

“You’re going to go down this endless rabbit hole of not knowing how much security is enough. And when someone comes in fully armed, you can’t stop them,” Meyer said. “So, you need to figure out why people are doing it in the first place and have a way — a multi-layered prevention system — to prevent it from happening.”

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He advocates for a multi-pronged preventive approach, including improved mental health services, Evaluating threats more effectively, and building trust so students and families are not afraid to speak up if they are concerned that someone has the means and intent to cause harm.

But there’s only so much the school can do, he said. And he’s not optimistic that public outrage over the Yuvaldi incident will lead to major changes.

“The problem is, a lot of the public reaction, you know, kind of goes up like a wave and then fades over time, and the politicians are used to waiting for this storm to pass. You know, they’ll give speeches and so on, and sometimes A committee will be appointed and a report will be issued,” Meier said. “But substantive changes are lacking.”

(This article is based on an Associated Press report.)

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