Keep the gates locked

LockedGateA group of eight high school boys armed with metal baseball bats recently attacked about 50 fourth and fifth grade students during recess at a Philadelphia elementary school.  At least 10 of the younger children were injured.

The district’s response? Cancel recess for several days.  That, in effect, punishes the younger children by denying them the chance to blow off some steam during the school day.  There is something wrong here.

My biggest concern is that a group of older bat-wielding kids were even able to get on the school grounds during regular class hours.  During the day, elementary school campuses need to be shut down to outside visitors unless they first register with the office.

That’s hard to do on a more open high school campus.  But it is entirely reasonable and feasible at an elementary school.  Here’s how…

Keep all gates into the campus locked while kids are in class.  Have one public gate with a video intercom.  A visitor buzzes, asks permission to enter and receives that only after an office worker sees and talks with the person.

That’s a relatively inexpensive system, which along with the cost of a few locks, could have prevented this type of attack.  And the younger children can play without fear.

PatrickFielPatrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System.  He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.

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Laura Ascione

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