Last night Trustees in the Toronto District School Board voted to end the police presence that has been in their high schools for nearly the past 10 years. While it may be sad that they had to even consider placing police officers in schools back in 2008, it does bring up a number of questions. While I could make an argument either way on why you might or might not want a police presence in schools, I am interested in your opinions. Here are questions I want you to consider while watching the video and then please send me your comments and thoughts?
- in your opinion would having a police officer on the premises really reduce the chances of violence? Has it worked in your city or country? Anyone have studies on this showing statistics positively or negatively?
- should the students be the ones really making the decision for this? Yes they are students there day to day, but would the students opinions be the best primary way of gathering info to make this decision?
- do you believe the students when they say they felt targeted? Or is that a convenient answer to give in hopes of having the police presence discontinued?
- is this a missed opportunity for the police and schools to improve their relationship outside of the schools?
- do you have any alternatives that might help keep schools safe?
Click here to view the link I found from Toronto CTV News
I do think regardless of the police having a presence or not we need to improve the security in all Canadian schools. For the past 24 years of teaching in schools, the lack of "violent" incidents has brought forth an attitude of apathy and denial that can be very dangerous. When you no longer feel you will fall victim to violence, you increase the chances of violence due to the dropping of your guard or taking of any measurable security measures. We walk into schools to teach self defense with virtually zero obstacles to us walking through with complete freedom and access to all areas of the school. In fact, when one of our instructors does walk into a school with a big duffel bag of equipment slung over a shoulder, the odd time we might be questioned as to why we are there and our purpose. When we indicate we are there to teach self defense, we are rarely questioned any further and are often offered an apology for being questioned. I always tell teachers or administration they should be questioning who we are and to not just believe or take our word for the reasons we say we are there. This is where all schools in Canada can make significant improvements in creating a safe environment. Have a procedure for keeping the building as secure as possible with layers of security if someone unknown or not normally on the premises would be very valuable. Knowing how to deal with any strangers on the premises through strategic questions, heightened awareness and recognition training to potential violence as well as an escort plan to security sign in at the office would require little implementation. This is where I believe the most advances in school safety can be made.
As always, please offer us your thoughts.