Letter to the Editor | School safety in our time

“Run. Hide. Fight.” That’s what potential victims of mass shootings in schools are learning now, according to Peoria County’s Regional Schools Superintendent Beth Crider.

She spoke to a recent Greater Peoria League of Women Voters meeting on school safety. Though statistically rare, shootings are everywhere in public settings, with schools especially a target, she said. State and local taskforces and teams are crafting responses to deal with threats and incidents, she said. There’s now an annual Illinois safety summit.

Schools, especially, are adopting measures that threaten their budgets, she said. They include resource officers, namely armed police; and check-in procedures for all visitors that include double doors, metal detectors, even scanners that require a drivers license rendering a quick background check.

The old days of many school entrances are long gone. Now schools are “hardened,” she said, with all doors locked. Like prisons, a sad thought.

Forget “duck and cover.” School children now are drilled on what to do if someone armed with a weapon manages to get into the hall. Fire drills which have not changed in decades are being re-engineered, she said.

Armed teachers? A very controversial issue.

Threats pose a host of issues, she said, as the news spreads fast on social media. A child who makes a thoughtless remark may be bullied, a life ruined, making a threat more likely to turn into an incident.

Students are also learning to report threats, some on tip lines or Google forms. “See something, say something,” they are told. So teenagers have a new venue for revenge.

Teachers are learning trauma management, Crider said, as many school shooting deaths occur when victims bleed to death before help arrives.

But here’s the worst thought of all – no one is talking about gun control, Crider said in response to a question.

People apparently want their guns as much as parents want ultimate school safety, and the trade offs appear to be worth it for many. Awful.

Elaine Hopkins, Peoria

The writer is a former Journal Star reporter.

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