Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Schools are Not Prisons

There was a school shooting in Cleveland yesterday. A troubled 14 year-old boy with two guns. The media was zealous to place blame. It made me think because I work in an elementary school and we experienced a "lock-down" last year when an unknown person was seen in the building.
Setting: Doors always locked. A camera at the front door to buzz in visitors who are instructed to sign in at the office (up a flight of stairs and on the other side of the building) and wear a visitor's badge. Staff carries key fobs and are not to open doors to visitors. Emergency procedures in place and practiced.

Picture this scenario: 8:45 am - Bell rings, teachers bring classes in (300 kids) from outside where many parents are milling about. In the office phones are ringing, announcements being made, students are going to get their free breakfast, the copy machine repairman has arrived, volunteers tutors are signing in, college students come for service projects, late students need a late slip to get in class, the milk delivery is here. Teachers are herding 20-25 children through the hallways. The principal is dealing with two boys who were fighting on the bus. A parent comes to register a new student.

Could someone walk in unnoticed as students were entering? Yes. Could someone walk in behind the milk delivery person? Yes. Could a child leave the door open at recess after going into the bathroom? Yes. Could someone who buzzed in never show up at the office? Yes. Could a teacher busy looking after 25 first graders tell a stranger to check in at the office - and could that stranger (or even familiar parent) just have lost custody of his or her child and want revenge? Yes. Could that person have a gun? Sure. Could a ten year-old find a gun at home and try something he saw on TV? Yeah.

A school is not a maximum security prison. It is a busy, bustling place where people come and go all day.

Should we pay close attention to troubled children and teens? Yes, yes, yes.
Should we wonder where they get guns. Absolutely.

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