School lockdowns are a scary reality

By  Dominique Bennett, Youth Speak News
  • November 13, 2008
The world is becoming a scarier place every day. Tune into your local TV news station right now and I’m sure you will see a report about another fatal incident.

That’s why I never enjoy watching the news. I prefer being ignorant to the harsh realities of this world.
This naïve way of thinking came to an abrupt ending during a school assembly when I watched a lockdown training video made by the Toronto Police Service.

It was shot at a local high school not far from my own and showed students  running in terror from a gunman, horrified parents outside the school begging to know about what was occurring inside, bodies on the floor and the sound of machine guns outside washroom doors.

When the film became graphic, we gasped and screamed as the gunman ventured through the school and students in the video were caught off guard for failing to follow proper lockdown procedures

Lockdown safety procedures are followed if there is a danger inside or outside of a school. It begins with a warning signal which usually only the students and teachers would recognize and no one is allowed to enter or exit the building.

Steps to follow generally include huddling into one area of the classroom farthest from the windows. Teachers lock the doors, closing all curtains if the danger is outside and join the students on the floor.

My high school is a fairly safe place, with more than 70 cameras keeping surveillance, hall monitors, local police officers who check in at least twice a week and lockdown practices at least twice a year.

Still, many students usually see lockdown practices as a time to fool around. We have discussed the importance of lockdowns on numerous occasions, yet we believe there would never be any true dangers to practice for. Our social worker saw the situation from a different perspective — that it could happen to our school too — and helped us to see that through the video.

To think that religious-based schools have to prepare for these types of scenarios! Aren’t we supposed to be a group of people set apart? Aren’t we made in the image of God, and told that no weapon formed against us shall prosper? Yet we are obligated to duck and cover on the floor as though we had little faith.

I am not saying we should try to be a hero and stand up to a gunman while quoting Scriptures, nor criticize lockdown procedures. I believe they are a brilliant idea. I am just wondering what we have to do next. School safety threats first began with fire safety. Now it has escalated to this.

Pray for safety in our schools. The time to be delivered from ignorance is now. I for one have been waiting for the crime to hit as close to home as possible before taking action.

Luckily I have come to a realization before something does happen. If we want to see a change in our school environments, we have to be the change we want to see through action and prayer.

(Bennett, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Senator O’Connor College School in Toronto.)

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