By Brooke Boznango
Some of you may have noticed that Findlay High School is going under construction. What you are seeing is the construction of a new safety entrance.
When it is finished, visitors will pass through the safety entrance if they want to enter the building, virtually eliminating the possibility of slipping by unnoticed. This is extremely important, especially for a bigger school like Findlay High School.
It is unfortunate that it has come to installing safety doors to keep students safe. As a future teacher, it concerns me what students are being exposed to at home and in their communities, not just for their own well-being but also for the well-being of their fellow classmates, faculty and staff working in the school.
Schools need to have enough security to protect faculty, staff and students. However, at what point does security become excessive? I believe the moment students stop feeling comfortable is when security has gone too far.
Safety doors have become a pretty standard part of school buildings lately. Also, many schools have installed intercom systems that require them to buzz in and speak with a school official before entering the building.
When security becomes excessive: when metal detectors and multiple security guards are put in place. The fear of setting off a sensor or having a run in with a security guard is enough to make a student, especially those in the younger grades, uncomfortable.
I realize that there are always situations where these kinds of measures must be taken. Schools in areas with high crime and gang rates have to take extra steps to ensure the safety of everyone in their buildings.
However, I believe that more can be done to prevent violent actions in schools, outside of adding to security.
As I have stated many times, our school systems put an enormous amount of emphasis on standardized testing. Teachers are forced to teach to the test rather than truly prepare students for their futures.
Millions of students live in areas that are afflicted by gang violence and poverty. For many, violent acts are the only way to protect themselves and those they love. Therefore, this is brought into schools, where some fall victim to bullying and harassment.
Desperate thoughts fill their heads as they try and find a way to escape the ridicule. Rather than talking to a teacher or counselor, they turn to violence or suicide.
Students need to know they are safe at school and there are ways to combat bullying without resorting to violence. They need to know the lifelong consequences that follow violent acts at school far outweigh the pain they are feeling at the moment.
When I was in high school, all of the students were asked to gather in the auditorium for an assembly. I remember sitting in the middle of the auditorium, watching a movie presentation on Rachel’s Challenge.
Rachel Scott was the first victim at the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Her legacy of love and acceptance lives on through Rachel’s Challenge, an organization that inspires students to accept those around them and stop the bullying in schools.
For two years, I met once a month with my fellow classmates in a small group to discuss bullying, hatred and acceptance. We learned ways to handle bullies without resorting to violence or suicide.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I know the lessons I learned have always stuck with me. I will take what I have learned with me into my future career as a teacher and hopefully inspire other students to accept those who are different from them.
Students need these kinds of interventions in their schools, especially those in high-risk areas. The best option is to have programs like Rachel’s Challenge happen on a regular basis in every classroom. However, I know how unrealistic that is for many schools.
Instead, it is up to the teachers and school administration to step up and teach these lessons to their students. This may force teachers to be vulnerable to their students, exposing a side of them they wouldn’t normally share, but this sort of realism in a classroom discussion on bullying may be exactly what a student needs to hear to get through the year.
It is truly unfortunate that we must take these kinds of precautions in our schools. However, they are highly necessary for millions of students across the United States. Maybe schools need to focus less on beefing up security and more on helping students understand how to handle stressful situations. It might just save a life.