"There is a huge difference between feeling safer and actually being safer.
Calls for bulletproof backpacks, arming teachers, and using textbooks to deflect bullets may sound good to desperate parents, but the ideas are basically impractical to those who understand schools and kids," said Kenneth S. Trump, a national expert on school security and emergency planning.
Trump, the president of National School Safety and Security Services, said there is not a sweeping trend toward bulletproof backpacks. The vast majority of kids do not carry backpacks in school all day and even with backpacks in hand, students would not be wearing them on their backs during class, lunch periods, physical education activities, and other school times.
School administrators are also increasingly requiring students to leave backpacks in lockers to help reduce accidental bumping and conflicts in halls and stairwells, Trump noted.
Trump says teachers and staff need training on school violence prevention, upgraded security reviews, and emergency plans that are developed and exercised in cooperation with public safety officials.
"The first and best line of defense is a well-trained, highly alert school staff and student body," Trump said. Students and staff who are trained to report strangers in parking lots and hallways, and who can recognize behavioral changes in students who might plan to commit violence are critical to maintaining safe schools, he stressed.
Trump says that any type of security equipment is a supplement to, but not a substitute for, a comprehensive school safety program. The most common way school administrators find out about a kid with a gun in school, he noted, is from students who report it to an adult who they trust.
School-associated violent deaths have increased the past three years in comparison to the 2001-02 and 2002-03 school years (see www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/school_violence.html).
Trump´s organization has tracked 32 school-associated violent deaths in the past 2006-07 school year. His organization also identified 64 non-fatal school- related shootings in 2006-07, and 85 the previous school year.
More on recent school associated-violent deaths, non-fatal shootings, and high profile school violence incidents at:
Kenneth S. Trump, M.P.A., is the President of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based national firm specializing in school security and emergency preparedness training and consulting. He has authored two books and over 50 articles on school security and crisis issues.
One of the leading school safety experts in the U.S., Ken has 25 years of experience in the school safety profession and has worked with school and public safety officials from all 50 states and Canada. He is one of the most widely quoted school safety experts, appearing in all national news networks and cable TV shows and in top market newspapers. He has also been a three- time invited witness who testified to Congress on school safety and emergency preparedness issues.