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School officials must carefully consider balance of safety and freedom

Posted: August 22, 2015 - 11:14pm

When something happens at our schools like the recent incident involving an Aiken County teen who senselessly brought a pistol onto the grounds of Lakeside High School, concerned parents are quick to ask: How can we make our schools safer?

That’s a valid and understandable question. And it’s best answered with another question: How safe would you like your child’s school to be?

If enough parents demanded it, Columbia County schools could keep our children “safe” with armed guards, metal detectors and razor-wire fenced perimeters. But who wants their kid going to school in a virtual fortress?

So when these unnerving but statistically rare incidents occur at our schools, the best thing parents and school officials can do is what they’re already doing: Keep cool.

The issue of school safety always must be periodically revisited. Parents have a legitimate expectation their children will be safe and sound while under supervision of educators and administrators.

Any after-action review of the Aug. 7 lockdown likely will show that, in addition to the rapid and astute response by local law enforcement, the accused teen took advantage of first-week chaos to enter the school and meander through its congested commons area.

Although video posted on social media show the teen flashing a pistol around inside a vehicle with friends, he has told police he didn’t bring the weapon inside the school, though there has been no explanation for why he made what authorities have termed a “vague threat” in the first place.

Regardless of the motive, the crimes he’s accused of are as serious as they are inexplicable. And, if guilty, he deserves harsh punishment.

But let’s not punish the children who had nothing to do with the incident by over-policing them and over-monitoring them with Orwellian surveillance.

And let’s not punish parents either by requiring them to submit to needlessly oppressive security protocols when they go to their public schools to see their children.

Creating balance between living in a safe society and a free society is something we must continually strive to achieve. The temptation to surrender personal freedoms for the promise of safety is always there.

Can safety be improved in our schools? Certainly. It just depends on how safe and how free we all want to be.

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Comments (1)

crackerjack

Thug

he has told police he didn’t bring the weapon inside the school.......Really! Are you kidding me?

And of course they believe him. After all, he is an outstanding citizen, and would never lie.