News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 2, 2013

READERS' FORUM: Nov. 3, 2013

Another look at school security

It’s at once pathetic and amazing what passes for increased security in the Vigo County School Corp. As a parent, I can’t help my daughter carry cupcakes to her kindergarten class. The kindly school receptionist informs me that this is against the school security doctrine.

My daughter, I’m to understand, is much safer if she either precariously handles the cupcakes herself or has the teacher leave the classroom to come get them. Apparently, many a violent lunatic will stop at the office to check in with cupcakes before he goes on a rampage. I can only guess what would have happened if I’d disobeyed her instructions (or failed to stop at the office at all) and sprinted down the hall, icing displaced with every step.

Still, the security policy has certainly evolved from last year, when preschool parents weren’t allowed in the lobby at another Vigo County location. After the Sandy Hook shooting, preschool parents were told that their children were safer if they waited outside for the teacher to retrieve them. Imagine my surprise the day my father took my daughter to preschool and was able to walk right into the sacrosanct lobby. It can be left to conjecture how he was able to do this without being accosted, but I suspect it had something to do with his business suit. (People who harm children don’t wear business suits.)

Does anyone feel that their child is safer with these well-meaning but impotent measures toward security? Does no one else fear that this policy has marginalized parents more than it has increased safety?

I’m in agreement that parents should be required to present ID, undergo background checks and the like. But aren’t we kidding ourselves to think this is keeping our children safer? More importantly, isn’t this breaking down the relationship that parents have with teachers and the school administration? Unless I am able to commit to being a classroom aide, I will never get a casual glance into my daughter’s classroom. (Such as the one a 30-second cupcake drop-off would provide.) I will never see how her teacher treats students and manages her classroom except on the approved (and well-rehearsed) open house days and parent-teacher conferences.

The awful reality is that there are people in the world who do debauched, reproachable things to children. Even the best preventive measures will never rid the world of this fact. New security measures should be implemented only when they provide a meaningful benefit and when they are weighed carefully against the community fragmentation that has come as collateral.

— Cassidy McFarling

Terre Haute

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