Virginian-Pilot Newspaper: “School Safety Answers Not Easy”

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On May 4th, three teenagers from a neighboring city entered Indian River High School in Chesapeake, Virginia without permission and assaulted a student whom they knew. No weapons were involved.

indian_river_high350Since doors are believed to have been locked at the time, administrators suspect another student let the intruders in.  Two of the 16-year-old suspects have been charged with felony malicious wounding and robbery.  Charges are pending against the third.

The Indian River High incident is not unique. According to a Virginian-Pilot newspaper article entitled “On School Safety, Answers Aren’t Easy,” Chesapeake, a mostly suburban city of 230,000 people, had 12 cases of student assault in a recent year.  One parent, upset about the recent incident, said, “What if it had been somebody with guns?”

A Chesapeake school board member with a background in law enforcement said, “We are pretty safe.  Can we stop everything?  No.”

The newspaper article reports that throughout Virginia there were nearly 3,700 cases of battery against a student without the use of a weapon in the most recent year of reporting and 16 malicious woundings.

The Chesapeake board member believes schools need to be careful not to impose such severe security measures that students feel uncomfortable.  “You don’t want kids thinking they are going to jail.”

Parents are also concerned that, after the May incident, administrators in Chesapeake chose not to notify parents about the intrusion and assault until the following day.  A spokesperson for a nearby district said their policy is to notify parents quickly when an incident occurs that might upset students — particularly in an era when news and rumors can travel almost instantly via social media.  But that spokesperson also said that notifications are sometimes delayed while facts are gathered and police investigate.

The NextGen School Safety Conference will focus on steps schools can take to prevent events such as the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, but will also address steps that can be taken to prevent more common incidents such as a student being assaulted, a teacher incurring a back injury, or a bus driver being involved in a collision.

(til May 31st, 2015)
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