Safety a concern for students

By Vickie Papageorge
November 3, 2006

Shane Evans

With the recent onslaught of violence in schools, the safety and well being of students is currently the main concern for parents and school officials. How safe is safe anymore? Millions of parents send their children to schools each day throughout the US without a worry. The safe, community-based and learning environment that has become a fundamental aspect in every child’s youth and growth process is being ransacked and their security tactics have been put to the test.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently publicized an article pertaining to a spot check that was performed by various journalists in schools across the region. The journalists, in their every day attire, went to a dozen high schools and entered the buildings unannounced through open doors without any trouble. One journalist sat down and had lunch with the students and was not questioned by any of the staff in these schools.

The supposed limited public access to this high school was missing that day. The principal of this school explained that the journalist’s entrance to the school revealed a weakness in their system of security. Situations like the previous occurred throughout the day but the journalists did encounter many schools that were extremely secure and allowed limited access to enter without being screened and signed in.

With the recent violence that has occurred in schools, security is being stressed nationally. President George Bush held a national conference on school security, sending the message that schools should be in high alert and should take proper precautions to possibly prevent these tragic occurrences that have left our country grieving.

In a more local perspective, Dr. Gary Cooper, superintendent of Radnor Township School District explained the precautions being taken in Radnor High School to assure safety for the students.

“We are practicing level-one and level-two lockdown procedures with the students and staff and we are preparing to retrofit all front doors with channeled entrances into the main offices,” Cooper said.

He went on to explain that the school was expanding their video surveillance capabilities, changing the protocols for investigating all incidents involving intolerance and threats and they were rewriting the curriculum to direct it towards intolerance and diversity.

As for Cabrini’s campus, Charles Schaffner, director of public safety, was unavailable to speak to about security procedures but Laura Shapella, assistant director for housing operations did offer some information pertaining to the numerous efforts Cabrini is making to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for the students.

“I think security is very good, but there is always room for improvement. We’ve placed public safety officers in large residence halls, have area coordinators on call 24 hours a day, public safety patrolling the campus at all times and we are educating students about general campus safety.”

Shapella went on to explain that the students on campus should always be vigilant and aware. “I think it’s important that residents take responsibility for their living community, and are aware of what is happening around them.”

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Vickie Papageorge

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