Parents who say "No" to guns, but also "No" to metal detectors?

If there ever was a case of “having your cake and eating it”, this must surely be it.

Daniel De Vise, a reporter for the Washington Post wrote an article that recently caught my attention. The title read: “Suburban Schools Reject Metal Detectors”. The word “Why” kept ringing in my ears as I read the story. Apparently, many parents feel that metal detectors in schools make the schools seem like camps or prisons. Surprisingly, consensus is building against the machines even at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, where last week, three loaded guns were found in a locker.

As if this was not bad enough, the article claims that many school officials view metal detectors as costly, impractical and fallible. Costly? Compared to what? If a metal detector saves even one life (and from what we have been witnessing at school shootings, single shootings are the exception while multiple killings are the “norm”), has that machine not paid for itself for the rest of time?

Another complaint amongst teachers appear to be the fact that the detectors will slow down access and leave children a few minutes late for class. I have not conducted a poll amongst parents but I am 100% sure I know what the result would be if I polled parents on which was most important: their child being five minutes late for class because they had to walk through a metal detector to keep them safe or getting to class in time but possibly becoming the victim of a deranged classroom killer who was able to bring a weapon into school because there was nothing to stop him.

I recently returned from a Threat Assessment workshop at UCLA hosted by Gavin De Becker and Associates. We studied school killings in greater detail. The one thing that was repeated throughout the course was the fact that many people are in denial. They want to believe that it couldn’t happen to them or at their school. The sad fact is, it can happen anywhere that does not have adequate security. We live in more violent times and there does not seem to be any sign of things getting better any time soon. Sticking our heads in the sand and hoping the “Bogeyman” goes away is not the answer. We have got to act responsibly and demand that schools take every measure they can to keep our children safe.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I disagree. I, too, am against bringing guns or knives to school; they are tools you will not need during school hours.
    Still, as a rule, I am against metal detectors: I believe it is too early to write off educators, such as parents, counselors and teachers, and have them replaced by metal detectors.
    Educators and caretakers should now, perhaps more than ever, step up and love and teach the young so that they will not feel the need to carry weapons.
    Boudewijn, the Netherlands

  2. John Sexton says:

    Dear Anonymous,

    In an ideal world, it just may that easy. Unfortunately, like most of my readers, I do not live in an ideal world. I live in a world where bad things happen. Children bring guns to school and whether by accident or careful pre-planning, they end innocent young lives. Public schools are often over-crowded, under-funded and believe it or not, they hire teachers who are not teaching because it is their vocation. To expect these schools to overcome all of their problems by teachers being more loving is a noble sentiment but I an afraid totally unrealistic. As a parent, I would have much more faith in a metal detector doing its job, i.e., detecting for dangerous metal objects such as guns and knives than I would for an overworked teacher being allowed to spend the time to nurture hundreds of children each and every day. Teachers can still play an extremely important role in the child’s development, however, why leave it all up to an over-worked teacher when back-up is so readily accessible?

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