Editor's Note (The View From Here)
My New Year's Wish
- By Deborah P. Moore
- January 1st, 2016
Growing up, I don’t remember thinking about school as a dangerous place. Maybe it was because newscasts were only 30 minutes long and there were no 24-hour news stations that replayed events for hours on end. Maybe it was because the World Wide Web, social media and cell phones did not exist and events were not photographed, tweeted and retweeted as they unfolded with everyone’s personal commentary on what was happening. Maybe it was because I was naïve, or maybe it was just a simpler time.
Yes, there were the bullies, alcohol and drugs, and the occasional fight or pulling of the fire alarm, but we didn’t face what today’s students do. When my parents and I were deciding which college I would attend, the college’s safety and security statistics were not a part of the decision-making criteria. I am old enough to remember events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was a threat to the entire nation, but I never felt that this type of attack was specifically directed at soft targets like our schools and colleges. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said today. Not only are schools and colleges fair game, they also provide would-be perpetrators with maximum effect and maximum news coverage. Add to that the fact that not all perpetrators are terrorists or outsiders. Many of today’s threats come from the students themselves.
The trend has been frightening… at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, two shooters walked into the school armed with guns and homemade bombs and killed 12 students and a teacher; a lone gunman killed 33 people, including himself, on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg; 26 people — 20 students and six adults — were shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Then there were the recent shootings at Northern Arizona University and Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, and in December, New York City, Los Angeles Unified and Miami-Dade schools — some of the largest school districts in our nation — all received threats of a large-scale attack.
All institutions have heightened their awareness and commitment to making schools and colleges safer for students and staff, but it is a complicated and growing problem. If I could have one wish for this new year, it would be to see progress in making schools safer environments for learning.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.