How Safe Is Your Child’s School? Another Public Health Issue In the Aftermath Of The Sandy Hook Shooting

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, this is a question we all have. But, in reality, it is a very difficult one to answer. So, to that end, here are some questions to ponder as we all think about how we can improve school safety. Or put another way – here are some questions for parents to consider about their child’s school.

What is your school’s policy concerning entry? Are multiple doors open during the day? Can anyone walk into the school unattended? Is there a locked door and a buzz-in procedure? Depending on your answers to these questions, should your child’s school reconsider their existing policies?

Do you know how prepared your school is in case someone enters? What procedures are in place? Are these common knowledge? Has the school shared their system with parents?

Does your school currently utilize armed guards? How do you feel about this? If your school doesn’t do this (and most don’t) – would you feel better if they did? Is your school having an active dialogue about this topic?

We all have an adaptive tendency to get back to our daily lives after a tragedy. Sandy Hook Elementary has resumed classes in a different school building. But although we move ahead, it’s really important that we keep the conversation going about school safety – and that parents make sure they have a voice and partner with their child’s school to have thoughtful discussions about the lessons learned. The most sobering one is that even in the case of a school with extreme precautions and a very well trained (and heroic) faculty and staff, schools are always going to be a vulnerable place. That said, we all know now that we need to do everything we can to make them as safe as possible.

For other recent thoughts on the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, see the following links:

Mental Health as a Public Health Issue

Gun Control as a Public Health Issue

School Security Cameras via

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  1. by frances quinn

    On January 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    last time i went to my child’s school you walked in the door and the sign said go to office first. this was all of her last three schools a few years ago. so i guess they are not very secure……..unless all the teachers are conceal carry!

  2. by Christine

    On January 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    If anyone wants to learn more about homeschooling, start by googling the HSLDA. That website has more information about homeschooling laws by state, including what is expected of homeschooling parents & students and how to withdraw a child if so desired. If your state has an Open Public Records Act or similarly-named law that permits you to request the full-year curriculum from the district, do so, and include the next few years’ materials too just in case they are needed. Finally, some homeschooling parents prefer paid sites/sources for content (as full-year materials are offered for sale by different vendors, written by educators) and others prefer free sites/sources and more hands-on learning (libraries, museums, more) – I think most do a combination of the two. Combined with staying involved in local scouts, sports or other socialization programs, a child can get a relatively ‘safe’ education at home at his own pace (rather than at the pace of the slowest student in the class or sub-group for study) with the one-on-one individualized attention that simply isn’t available in a classroom. Good luck, however you choose to educate your kids!

  3. [...] Is your child’s school safer? ( [...]

  4. [...] Some schools have video surveillance systems in place that are monitored for potentially suspicious activity. Schools may have changed their policies concerning entry at different times of the day. And at some schools there is a police presence or security guards in place. Yet these types of changes will undoubtedly need to be evaluated, and potentially evolve over time. It does appear, however, that that sad and startling day at Sandy Hook Elementary promoted a nearly universal awareness that no school can be assumed to be safe – and that every school needs to take a comprehensive approach to trying to best ensure their students’ safety. [...]