Time For Change

written by Kris Costa

The hearts at Mindset are deeply saddened by recent events at Umpqua Community College.

Unfortunately, it is my belief that this will not be the last school shooting to take place. The rash of violence spreading across the nation against our schools and the innocents within is nothing short of evil.

My appreciation goes to the first responders, medical responders, crisis centers and others, whose grim tasks now include and necessitate drill upon drill of reacting to such domestic terrorist emergencies. No longer carrying an element of sheer surprise, these tragedies have become scenarios whose practiced responses are now a matter of protocol in our American culture. The re-enforced skill sets of our task forces, and other emergency preparedness teams and individuals have no doubt increased the likelihood of surviving such a horrifying scenario, however, much needs to be discussed and implemented to avert the terrorist act in the first place. It is not enough to deal with the after effects. These occurrences MUST be eliminated. It is my opinion that the most influential to facilitate effective change in our own schools lie with us, the civilian public.

I often wonder how many parents have asked the serious questions to our schools regarding  security and preventative measures, and if so asked, what are the responses?

Our government representatives and the like, will address various talking points around gun control, mental health, etc., all of which are vital and valid and necessary discussions to have,  for quite some time to come. However, let us not forget that it is not the government’s responsibility to appoint school security to all the schools in the nation and regulate it. Our Legislative branch will provide rules to govern society, and the Judicial branch will set ramifications when violations occur. The police and others will respond to such violations. However, the job of keeping our schools safe lie with us, the proactive general public. It simply is not acceptable or effective to wait around in fear for someone, or some other body of people, to do the job we need to be doing, which is stand up for safety of our youth and other personnel in schools.

If you are a parent, have you questioned your child’s school on security procedures? Do you know what the procedure is concerning lock down? Do you know if those procedures are drilled with any regularity? What situations are covered? Most importantly, how is the school addressing preventative measures? How is the school physically secured? Are there increased security measures in place?  Are there “No Gun Zone” signs posted? Does your school believe that is a deterrent? Would they consider additional preventative security measures if the budget for such could be supplemented? Would you pull your child/young adult out of the school if you were not satisfied with their answers? Is there a parent group formed and it is applying pressure  (and support) to the school to make the hard decisions and take serious action?

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Do your children know how to adapt to life where they hear about school shootings in the news regularly? Do they really feel safe? And there is so much more.

If it is not worth the effort to find the answers to the above, and more so, to do everything possible in our power to protect our children in school, then we may loose a lot more lives waiting for others to address these issues on our behalf. I believe in prevention, and it begins in our own neighborhoods. Speak up, form a collective, offer solutions, pressure the schools to respond, financially contribute. It’s not about who “should” be doing what, it is about doing the best we can and now. Lives matter.

There are so many facets to the issue of school violence and violence prevention. Enforcing physical boundaries against it, before it happens, may just be the easy part.

Here is the real question: If we could go back to the day before each school shooting, knowing what we know now, would there be one thing that could be done differently?  If the answer is no, then there is no need to pay attention to this post.

~KBC

Emergency Preparedness-The Series-Part II-The Low Down on Lock Downs

Emergency Preparedness-The Series-Part II
canstockphoto7725817
The Low Down on Lock Downs


In the aftermath of well publicized school shootings, it only makes sense to address the possibility of any threat on school grounds whether it be trespassing, or an armed suspect.There is no longer room the “simple threat” attitude, the cost of the potential problem is just too great.

Although most schools will never experience a threat as horrific as a school shooting, there is no down side to expecting the best and being prepared for the worst.

To that end, here are how Arizona schools are prepping to handle the worst case scenario of a potential school shooting on their grounds. This information has been gleaned from the AZ Department of Education and the AZ Republic website. Also, be sure to visit the Mindset Self-Defense You Tube account at: XXX for video’s on school preparedness, sourced from the Department of Homeland Security. Click on our School Safety
playlist.

Valley schools typically announce lockdowns whenever a potential threat is identified and the situations run the gamut and are not distance sensitive. For example; a bomb threat, a suspicious person who appears to have a weapon or suspect on the run, even if several blocks away. What prompts a lockdown is anything that presents a danger to children — not just criminal. When a lockdown is announced, teachers sweep the area, bring in adults and students to the nearest classroom, lock the doors,remain quiet and turn off the lights. If the school has a resource officer, they are notified and police agencies might send officers to schools to guard the perimeters.

Five Chandler schools were placed on lockdown for about four hours this year when a man was spotted reportedly carrying either a rifle or shotgun near Chandler High School. A Tempe middle school went into lockdown last school year after two students reported another student showed them a handgun in a backpack. The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun. A Mesa high school in 2013 was placed on lockdown when a student called in a bomb threat.

Usually, it is the police’s call to lock down a school, but district administrators work with police agencies to learn how and when to implement lockdowns.

Similar to other districts, Mesa schools conduct at least one lockdown drill a semester, Mesa schools
spokeswoman Helen Hollands said.

Lockdowns are stress producing for parents. Most parents find out about them through either district administration communications, posts on district websites, email alerts or at times letters home if a situation warrants it. Often times the children themselves contact parents through social media, which at times are the quickest way parents received information. It is important for parents to know that the information they received via their children may be prompted by a false alarm and not to panic until the
information has been verified.

Here are some common questions that many parents would like answers to:

How are school lockdowns handled?
The specifics of each plan differ, as do the responses, based on the specifics of a situation. In general, each plan involves the designation of an emergency-response team; development of evacuation, shelter-in-place and lockdown procedures; preparation of a portable emergency response kit that contains key information and supplies; designation of one or more appropriate evacuation sites; provisions for training personnel and updating the plan; checklists for dealing with specific types of incidents; and resources for help before, during and after an incident.

Read more on Pgs.22-23

Kris Costa
Editor in Chief

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