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Do you think public schools have become safer since the Columbine shootings?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on April 21, 2007

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Photo of Shannon Elam

“They have more metal detectors, but they aren’t really effective. I think it could just as easily happen now as it did then. We’ve had at least one shooting in our school district this year.”

Photo of Ryan DelCotto

“Not necessarily. I think a lot of attention was paid to it right after it happened, but I think a lot of places still have an ‘it can’t happen here’ attitude about it.”

Photo of Brad Danahy

“I think they are more cautious about who they let in and out. You can’t even get into my son’s school without going through the front office.”

Photo of Sarah Kellogg

“No, but I don’t really think it has anything to do with security. I think it’s a lack of support for troubled kids. They need to focus on the problems that are causing kids to do these things.”


paladin 11 years, 1 month ago

We have a winner! Give Sarah a Cupie Doll.

jonas 11 years, 1 month ago

Welcome to an imperfect, unsafe world. The only real solution would be my real-ultimate idea for an elite ninja team to lie in wait in every public school to react quickly and with silent efficiency to developing and immediate threats.

Barring that, as quality ninja are getting somewhat difficult to find, we should love our friends and families every day like it could be the last we have together, because it could be.

Kat Christian 11 years, 1 month ago

Metal Detectors, 'lockdown' plans, etc. are only bandaids on the REAL problems. You know what they are but no one has the guts to take the actions toward remeding them. Yes, it will be hard work, a LOT of sacrificing and being OUT THERE in the public, because we don't want to stand out and be different do we? FEAR... too many people are fearful of change and making change. We've all become so complacent in our lives we are like rats in a maze following the protocol without thinking where we are actually going. Well surprise folks look at our schools, our neighborhoods - crime will not take a rest until we as a society put it to sleep by taking actions to get to the core of the problem. You don't have to use violence to do this.

ms_canada 11 years, 1 month ago

Following up on the discussions of yesterday. I just finished reading a large two full page story on the life of Mr. Cho, as the reporter called him. One paragraph really caught my attention. Mr. Cho left his room unseen by his 5 roommates. The five of them wouldn't see him again until his pinched glaring face would spew a ferocious, posthumous rant via their television, to be repeated on millions more across the country-- by tnen, salt in a nation's wound. An apt description of that broadcast, salt in a nation's wound Are schools more safe> Is the nation more safe, is the world more safe? Absolutely not. The whole of the western world is so caught up in the fight against terrorism. New government departments have been set up to seek out terrorists. But if you think about it, what does a terrorist really look like? What behaviour patterns would give them away? Any one could walk into a school, elementary or college with enough explosives to blow the whole building to smithereens and who would know beforehand. It could be a school in small town, rural Montana or Arizona. It could just be a small message saying to the western world, Hey guys, do you think you are safe from us? :o) Mr. Cho's life story is a horror story. His family, especially his mother,knew there was something drastically wrong with her son, took him to countless doctors, but no one was able to help the boy or man. How grossly terrible. How many Mr. Cho's or Mr. Abbas' are out there?

mick 11 years, 1 month ago

Every year 9% of college kids seriously contemplate suicide. That is a lot of suffering and should be an indictment of the mental health industry and educational "professionals" who apply pseudoscientific theories to what are really spiritual problems. Those who know the truth can't be heard over all of the quacking.

linux_chick 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm going to throw myself out there and just suggest that perhaps this incident shows us that our disaster-prevention tactics are working...

What I mean is: what can we do, if not 1) make the punishment so severe it deters most criminals from action and 2) act quickly to prevent the deaths of as many as we can once a crisis starts?

On our severe punishments #1: It seems Cho was convinced he was in deep sh** for doing what he did, and opted to blow his brains out.

On our swift response #2: Police were on site, actively looking for Cho when the second shooting started, and caught up to him within minutes.

We'll never stop someone committed enough to take his life. But this tragedy convinces me we're closer to limiting the # of occurrences to the most determined/insane. And that's a comfort.

My prayers to the families...

hockmano 11 years, 1 month ago

The schools in this town just put in all these damn cameras in the past few years. What's that going to do? ?Give us a scary movie to watch when something does happen!

There should be security guards by all doors that are unlocked during the daytime! But the truth is the school district's budget can't afford it! So, it's like waiting for the shoe to drop.

Anyways, an administrator informed me that security guards at the high school were not trained to intervene during altercations between classmates. So I guess they definitely wouldn't be trained to stop ARMED gunmen!

Jace 11 years, 1 month ago

Well, I guess we could always fortify every pre-school, grade school, high school, and college in America with watch towers, motion detectors, metal detectors, hundreds of cameras, maybe a helicopter with an infra-red motion detector attached to it....and perhaps we could have some sort of howitzer canon or maybe even a tank parked in the parking lot.......that might do the trick (as far as making our nation's schools as safe as they can be)! Oh!, and I almost forgot!.....obviously there would have to be dozens of body-armoured foot soldiers walking about here and there (with their guns at the ready), as well!

But golly!, that sure would cost the American taxpayers a ton of money....wouldn't it?

Oh, well! I guess if we go that route.....we can all forget about that "return trip to the moon" that was promised!

kneejerkreaction 11 years, 1 month ago

Do you think public schools have become safer since the Columbine shootings?

Was this question someone's idea of a joke? Can anyone remember the number of shootings SINCE Columbine? That's a better question.

You weren't safe then, you're not safe now. There's a split second between feeling safe and not being safe at all. If you had asked V Tech students at 6:30 that morning, they would have responded in the positive too.

kneejerkreaction 11 years, 1 month ago

What annoys me is that people forget after these tragedies. I wonder what the KU administration is doing right now to try and stop copycat nutballs? I bet allowing the students to legally carry firearms is NOT one of their considerations.

blessed3x 11 years, 1 month ago

One answer, I believe, are groups like Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students). Here is how the organization got started:

"WATCH D.O.G.S. Across Americ® started after a 1998 middle-school shooting in Jonesboro, Ark., prompted one father, WATCH D.O.G.S. founder Jim Moore, to get involved. He wanted to help prevent such violence from occurring at his child's school or at any school. Moore could easily see that fathers were the missing element at his child's school. He suggested to the principal a way to involve fathers, help create a safer, stronger school setting and provide positive male role models for students."

I am attempting to start up a Watch Dog group in the school my children attend.

Read up on it:

We as a culture have neutered fathers. We've raised an entire generation of kids in single parent households where the kids visit dad every other weekend and one week a year or if he is in the home he's glued to the internet or NASCAR. The family unit is in shambles and we wonder why kids flip out and destroy the lives of countless others in incidents like the VT killings. We dad's have become wusses, weak inefficient shadows of our fathers and grandfathers. We have let this thing happen to us and this is the result. How many of these slayings did you see in the 40's or 50's when the family unit was strong and your dad was a figure of power and strength in your life?

It's not gun control or sending every kid with a bad thought through a battery of pyshological tests or turning our schools into Fort Knox. If you want the answer to the problem look no further than your front door. The only question you need to be asking is "Where's Dad?".

denak 11 years, 1 month ago

First, it should be noted that Cho and both the killers at Columbine came from intact two parent families.

As for the question at hand, yes, overall, I think the schools have become safer at least here in Lawrence. As stated above, most schools lock their doors after classes commence and visitors have to go through the office.

However, Lawrence was safe to begin with. The average school in the U.S. was safe to begin with. There have been less than a dozen of these incidents in recent history. Compare that to the number of schools in the U.S. and you have a very small percentage of schools affected.

It should also be noted that the U.S. is not the only country where there have been school shootings. Qatar, the Netherlands and Australia have all had recent school shootings.


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