Point/Counterpoint: School security - how much is too much?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Evening Sun reporters love to argue. The sides taken in this argument were chosen arbitrarily and do not necessarily reflect the true opinions of the authors. This week, Tyler Murphy and Jeff Genung debate whether there’s such a thing as “too much” security when it comes to our schools.

Our schools are spinning wildly out of control. Since 1992, 410 people have been murdered as a result of school violence. Out of those, 324 were gunned down in cold blood. If there is anything more horrendous than murdered children, I don’t know of it. We should take all possible precautions to ensure the safety of our schools. Schools have had a long history of compromising individual rights for what is best for the student. Anyone who went to school knows that when you’re there, certain behaviors and actions that may be appropriate elsewhere are not allowed. Such things as free speech and freedom of expression have been limited to help create an atmosphere of better learning and study. Safety should be a far heavier concern. No compromise is worth more than the welfare of a child. Metal detectors, police dogs, badges, harsher punishments and even random checks should be made part of all public schools. If in the future more drastic steps are needed, then they should absolutely be taken. – TDM

Security is one thing, fear is another. While I certainly agree that every measure within reason should be taken to safeguard the well-being of our children, I’d rather not have our children raised in an atmosphere of fear and oppression. Ideally, students – especially in the younger grades – shouldn’t be aware of hard-line security measures at all. Schools can be relatively safe places – as our tests last week proved – without metal detectors and barbed wire. I’d rather see us concentrate on teaching our children how to handle their own aggressions with words instead of fists than to see our efforts placed on drug-sniffing guard dogs and patting-down backpacked 4th graders. – JMG

Fear is found in the idea of not being safe. Security will eliminate that fear, not create it. It is true that some security measures may make people feel uncomfortable, but it’s better than the bloody alternative. We live in a world that unfortunately is suffering a wave of adolescent violence. If that wasn’t enough, more and more extremists and madmen are realizing that rampaging at a school will grab national attention and the motivations and desires have never been higher. We live in a climate of aggression with so many tensions abroad with the war on terror and even tensions at home. It is not fair to make the decision between safety and freedom, but we did not create this dilemma; however we must certainly deal with it. The world is not fair. I’d rather make a school a prison rather than see it become a graveyard. – TDM

Talk about extremism! It’s exactly that kind of fear-mongering that led us into this interminable overseas mess, but that’s another column. Beefing up school security to the point you’re suggesting is treating the symptom, not the disease. The real money and effort should be placed on preventing the causes of these problems in the first place – identifying and treating the troubled youths and adults whose aggressions lead to such terrible consequences. Schools need to at least maintain the air of being open and accessible – that’s the only way the young minds nurtured therein will turn out the same. – JMG

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The fact is people are dying and we can not stand idly by and let any more of that happen without doing everything in our immediate power to stop it. You want to find the root and cure the problem from the inside out? You don’t even have a diagnosis for your patient – all we have are symptoms. Each graphic scene of violence in schools has its own special issues. Student, adults, organized or emotional rampages – they all have different causes and how can you address them all to the point of guaranteeing safety? How much time will that take? How many lives will it take to buy you that time? We should take immediate action to secure our schools and worry about the deeper issues after. The issues you speak of are social and cultural; they could take years if not decades to remedy. The truth is schools now emulate the growth of a violent culture slowly engulfing the world. It was only a matter of time. – TDM

Let’s follow your path of logic for a moment here. First we lockdown our schools to the point where they resemble the aforementioned prison – what’s next? Fingerprint ID at church? Strip search at the supermarket? It’s far too easy to cross the line from security into outright paranoia. While it’s unfortunate we live in a society where targeting innocent school children is a favorite modus operandi of the criminally insane, there isn’t a security measure known to man that would safeguard you from that sheer lunacy walking down the street, entering any kind of public building, or even in your own home. Respond in the extreme in our schools as you’re suggesting and it won’t be long before George Orwell’s grim vision becomes reality. I’d much prefer to keep our children safe while at the same time fostering an atmosphere of openness and trust – and teaching them that the world isn’t an entirely bad place in which to live. – JMG

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