Tragic violence once again has hit America's schools. With the shooting deaths last month of 32 students and faculty by a deranged gunman, Virginia Tech joins an infamous list of education institutions forever scarred by a horrendous act on campus.
As the university's students, parents, staff and others affected by the violence continue the painful process of healing, the event was another stark reminder that no place is immune from the possibility of such a tragedy.
Yet, with all the programs, planning and technology enlisted over the years to create safe school environments, questions remain: How can future tragedies be prevented? Are there things we should be doing differently? How can we better protect students and staff?
Unfortunately, there is no magic answer to any of these questions. All of the programs, planning, communication systems and technology in the world most likely will not stop a determined individual from attempting to commit a horrendous act. There are, however, steps that can be taken and procedures implemented to ensure your institution is prepared.
In this month's cover story, the issue of campus security is explored — offering insight into strategies that can help schools and universities provide safe, secure environments. In addition, American School & University has created a security microsite on www.ASUmag.com: “Campus Violence: Keeping Schools and Universities Secure.” The site is a resource for security-related news and information, as well as in-depth features on everything from crisis management and emergency planning to access control and security systems. Also, make sure you visit SchoolHouse Beat — The Blog to communicate with fellow administrators and share your views and concerns on current events and issues.
It is difficult to predict such horrific events as the Virginia Tech massacre, but education institutions must realize that no school is immune to the possibility of violence on campus. Take precautions; assess threats; make plans; and practice and review responses regularly.
The tragedy at Virginia Tech not only was the worst campus shooting ever, but also the deadliest shooting in this nation's history. The number killed in some of the worst U.S. school shootings:
A lone gunman killed 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech last month, and then shot himself.
In 1966, a shooter perched on the observation deck of the University of Texas at Austin's Tower killed 16 and wounded 31.
Two gunmen murdered 12 students and a teacher, wounded 23 others, and then killed themselves at Columbine High School, Colo., in 1999.
In 2005, a 16-year-old shot five students, a teacher, an unarmed guard, and then himself at Red Lake High School in Minnesota.
Five girls are killed and five are wounded at an Amish school in Lancaster County, Pa., in 2006. The gunman then shot himself.
A graduate student killed five and wounded two on the University of Iowa campus in 1991, and then shot himself.
Source: USA Today