Tackle School Security Holistically

NO amount of solace might seem enough for the teachers, students and ancillary staff of St. Mary’s College currently nursing their collective psyches back to life after Monday’s break-in at that school. It’s even more chilling in the case of the two security guards who now have to recount the frightening ordeal for the rest of their lives.

While break-ins at schools have been a perennial concern for schools and government officials alike, the matter has seemingly not being dealt with enough, with many excuses being given, thereby allowing what was once a pimple to now become a nulcer.

Nearly two decades ago, school principalDr. Morella Joseph was viciously attacked by a 16-year old machete-wielding student who entered her office, locked the door and inflicted his rage on her while his accomplice kept watch.

That incident at Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School has since left scars on the school’s reputation and also the flesh and psyche of the educator who has since left that school. As it turns out, the principal had earlier made known that gang and drug-related activity at her school would not be tolerated. Her attacker had recently returned to school after being suspended for being involved in suspected drug-related activity.

To date, it remains to be seen how astute a level security has been at our nation’s schools.

The current debate regarding security at schools really does call for a holistic, multi-faceted approach for dealing with the problem. While break-ins have been cited in the recent instances that attract our attention, there is no denying that overall school security should redound to also protecting schools from their own populations.

Over the years, there have been many instances in which students were searched at random and illegal drugs, firearms and other weapons found in their possession. In some cases, students are either preying on others by stealing their pricey cellphones or passing on information to their associates on the outside as to which students are prime targets for robberies.

While the recent attacks and break-ins at schools should be treated as priorities, any measures being considered by authorities need to take this into consideration: that among the very crop of future leaders we are preparing might very well be a handful of future criminals who are already learning the tricks to illegal trades under the guise of taking advantage of a good education.

As such, any recommendations to beef up security at schools should not be limited to just protecting teachers, students, security guards and ancillary staff from external threats but also those threats that exist within the school compound.

Random searches and/or screenings should be done at schools in order to ensure that illegal weapons and other dangerous items are not brought onto the school compound. Also, security guards need to be trained appropriately and not be sitting in their outposts passively. Anything can happen at any time and preparation should be key.

Finally, if education truly is an endeavour worth investing in, then the clichéd excuse of limited resources being espoused by authorities can only serve to embolden the criminals who prey on our nation’s schoolchildren. After all, if a mind is indeed a terrible thing to waste, then we must ensure that that we spend even some of the little financial resources we have to protect our precious human resources.

In the final analysis, there are dedicated, productive students who do show up at school each day to make good use of the education being provided. To deny them that right is, well, criminal.

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