Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston
BREAKING: Santa Fe High School Shooting
The situation is both terrifying and a terrifying reminder that at any time, any of our children, is at risk for facing an active shooter threat while at school. While law enforcement is trained to handle these situations, are you as a parent? What about the teachers faced with protecting your child? And how about our children, do they know how to mentally, emotionally and physically handle this trauma?
Let’s get on the same page:
• Do you know what your school’s policy is in the case of an active shooter? Will they immediately lock-down? Which law enforcement agencies cover your area? You’d be surprised how many families have no idea which police agency covers their school. Are their armed teachers on your campus? Parents note – Texas has nearly 350,000 teachers and about 1,200 districts and public charter schools. As of first quarter 2018, 172 Texas school districts have policies allowing licensed employees and/or board members to have guns, according to the Texas Association of School Boards. That can include security guards.
• Do you know how reunification will take place with your students? Once safe, is there a “safe place” where students will be sent? A local fire department, a designated parking lot on campus?
• Do you know how the school will update you? In this morning’s case, parents are tweeting that they don’t know how to reach their children. Phone calls are dropping and the school is not answering. Make sure your school has a plan in place to alert you with active updates in the case of a tragedy. Also, know that schools in the case of an active shooter simply cannot also field frantic parent calls. They must have a plan in place to release mass statements – that might be via a technology you must sign up for or via email that you listed when you registered your child for that school year. The main point, at the start of the year, make sure you know how active cases are reported. Check quarterly to make sure you have the most recent information. And if your school doesn’t have a policy, demand that they create one.
• Do you have a way to get in touch with your child? Some children have phones or watches that allow direct communication with you. These are key during these times and even though they may allow you to talk directly to your child, remember that roads might be closed, and parents cannot necessarily drive to their students. If the students are in a secured place, do not ask your child to walk away from the safe spot to meet you. The area surrounding their safe spot may not be safe. PLEASE stick to the plans and rules of the law enforcement on the scene.
• Have you talked through active shooters with your child beforehand? Do they understand that law enforcement is trained, what shelter-in-place means? That there needs to be a plan to communicate and that everyone will work together to keep the kids safe.
Parents, we think these things can never happen where we are, but the reality is they can and they do. Knowing this is a realty, Crime Stoppers’ Safe School Program has been in hundreds of Houston / Harris County Schools working with students in an age-appropriate non-threatening way to prevent these attacks before they can happen. As a result, our critical free program has worked with law enforcement to remove nearly 300 weapons from schools in our area before they could be used against our children.
Times have changed and threats to our kids exist and continue to escalate. We must be equipped with information, we must be trained, we must talk to our schools about the policies they have in place and with students about the threats that exist. In addition to the horror of an active shooter, navigating through the sheer emotional chaos in the aftermath is physically, emotionally and mentally draining. Through discussions and training and education, we can mitigate those parts. In today’s world, we must do this. Join us in our efforts to keep all kids and schools are safe by making sure your school is working with our free program.