Danger in Our Doors

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Danger in Our Doors

Brittney Gano, Editor

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In 2018 alone, there were more school gun violence incidents than fatal school fires since the early 20th century. Since the last record-high of school gun violence incidents in 2006, the numbers have risen by 59% in 12 years.  

School gun violence incidents have been on a constant rise since the 21st century began, whereas school-related fire incidents have declined since the start of the century. The tragic 2018 Parkland school shooting caused a rise in awareness for this issue, yet there still isn’t much change to be seen in most schools. 

One of the most major issues to take into account when studying the numbers and percentages of fires and shootings is that a large percentage of each incident is caused by a person who is either a student or staff member of the school.  

Intentional school fires are responsible for 36% of injuries or deaths within schools. For intentional school shootings, this number is higher.  Between the two, 88% of injury-related incidents in schools are caused by someone within the school. 

The biggest threats to schools are already within their doors. Most dangerous-persons drills operate under the impression that the threat is someone from the outside. In reality, the suspect likely knows when best to cause destruction within the school and exactly where everyone will be at the time.  

Much destruction is caused by members of a school in both fires and gun-related incidents, yet the preparation for both is highly unbalanced.  

In West Virginia, public schools are required to conduct two fire drills within the first thirty days of the school year and an additional drill every month the school is in session. In comparison, schools are only required to conduct two code red drills each year. 

This requirement has been standard for many years, even though in a 2013 WV Safe Schools report it was stated that students are vastly more likely to be injured or killed by school violence than fire, and there should be more attention drawn towards drills that practice safety in a school violence emergency.  

Many other states such as Ohio have standardized more in-depth procedures in the case of a dangerous person. An elementary school in Akron, Ohio teaches young students to “barricade” doors to prevent “bad guys” from getting in, and in the case that someone does get in, to run and scream.  

It’s arguable that doing this could cause fear or panic in children, although the true fear would be unpreparedness in such a situation. In most other schools, the drill accounts for hiding from the dangerous person, but never what to do if students encounter them. In the circumstance that someone dangerous enters a classroom, there is no official plan.  

Schools in America and around the globe should identify recent incidents and new information as a call to action. There is danger in our doors, and we are the only ones who can help prevent it from within.