The recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary sadden us all. Many are asking and investigating their schools to see if this type of thing could happen. Yes, it probably could happen in most schools. Unless we put bullet proof glass in everywhere, keep students off playgrounds, and commit a bunch of equally drastic investments, these types of things can happen. But we know, even though the media blows these up, they are rare, and schools are safe. In technology, there are many things we do behind the scenes to make things safer. One is just by having easy access to surveillance cameras. From my desk I can access cameras at every one of our schools. So can our superintendent, assistant superintendents, local law enforcement, and principals. I and they can rewind footage and send out messages. We can access all computers remotely. I can check the hard drives, I can actually remote to them and watch them live on my computer, my tablet, even on my phone. We routinely check student and staff internet traffic. Besides these spot checks, we can always run extensive reports when a principal or guidance counselor may suspect something further with a student. We also put certain ‘key’ words in to get alerts when certain words are searched for, as a trigger that we may need to search further.
We use many other things as well, from keycard door locks, to other crisis measures, all to keep children safe. Will this help in every case? No, but then you are seeing this violence in public places. We can implement more and more safety measures, and we will, but like filtering software, people who truly want to get around things will. Each situation is unique, and we try to design for that, but we are only as safe as those in place. We need to TALK with our students and children. You see a common thread with all these incidents–a loner, very bright, less than stellar home life. In schools and at home the conversation needs to begin about working to make sure children receive attention. Make sure the receive support if needed. We are continuing to place so much importance on material things that we continually ignore the important things–family!