Things We Need To Know About Campus ViolenceBy Child Safety Specialist Sep 1, 2010 | 10:35:00 amPosted in: Personal Safety
I recently had the opportunity to meet Patrick V. Fiel, Sr., Public Safety Advisor for ADT Security Services. For 22 years Patrick served in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps where he had a chance to protect heads of state, foreign dignitaries and major sporting events such as the annual Army-Navy football game. He then spent six years as the executive director of security for Washington, D.C. Public Schools, helping to protect the district’s 163 campuses and more than 70,000 students. Now, he is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services, which helps to protect more than 15,000 schools and more than 1,300 college and university campuses.
As Patrick explained to me, “One remark I constantly hear from parents is ‘It can’t happen here.’ By that they mean the violence and crime that they often associate (many times falsely) with big cities. If you stop and think of the two worst campus-related tragedies in the U.S. – Virginia Tech and Columbine – they both took place in rural to suburban areas.”
Protecting our schools has become an increasing issue. Across the country, college campuses have orientation classes for incoming freshman regarding procedures they have in place in case of campus violence. From elementary school to college, as parents we need to understand how to keep our kids safe. Patrick had some important points for parents to know:
• Currently there are no standard security laws in place for schools. The Department of Justice makes recommendations but there is no enforcement of security standards. Parents need to speak with their school to understand what security measures are in place as well as evacuation procedures. Determine if there is a safety committee at your school and, if there is, get involved. If there’s not, start one.
• Kids need a means to communicate instances anonymously. This is something that I was discussing with another safety expert the other day. It’s naïve to think that our kids are going to report a bullying incident or act of violence and not fear retribution. This has been a problem for generations. Our kids are afraid to speak up because they know that ultimately it could lead to even greater danger for them. Procedures must be put in place to safeguard victims immediately.
• Prevention and awareness is key. This may seem obvious but complacency and denial are one of the greatest obstacles to protecting our kids. If you don’t have a neighborhood watch in your community, start one. Talk to your schools about how they are protecting your kids. And, talk to your kids about how to protect themselves.
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