Why don’t Americans get school security?

I purposely have waited for to see if anything gets past talking, diatribes and rhetoric after the school shooting in Parkland. Soon 90 days will have passed, and sadly despite much brouhaha, there is little progress in our sights.

America continues to have a gun problem. Everyone on both sides of the gun control debate would attest to that wholeheartedly. If you are of the liberal persuasion, you may be demanding the immediate banning of AR15 and similar rifles along with high capacity round magazines. On the flip side, pro gun advocates are likely to be demanding greater access to support the theory that the “only thing to stop a bad guy a gun, is a good guy with a gun”.

The bigger issue is that America has a school shooting problem. Just like the gun problem, it’s societal and fueled by glorification and misrepresentation of firearms by Hollywood and media outlets. School shootings are a phenomena that is not ending anytime soon until school security is upgraded and able to respond.

These past few months having taken us on a fruitless journey with weeks of frenetic media reporting, politicians & mouthing off in a pointless manner. While some action has been taken, school security still gets an “F” or FAIL grade.

As a father of five kids who attend Jewish schools in Florida, who face ongoing threats on top of school shooters, to have proactive security in place. I hope that this will extend to non-Jewish schools as well to defeat the active shooting phenomena.

However, while the debates rage on, kids are still unprotected & have no realistic & practical security solutions. This is totally unacceptable.

Israel is constantly looked to for technology, innovations and, of course, expertise & experience in security. With almost zero school shootings, I truly believe we need look no further than Israel which promotes and uses truly best practices. Potential shooters in Israel know that they will be facing a person assigned to protect and shoot back.

Arming teachers has been touted as a possible part of having an active response to school shooters, however this concept appears to be shot down. I’m personally open to examining any area that keeps kids safe in schools, however teachers are already overwhelmed and ill equipped mentally or physically to deal with a threat coming from the outside. I would also venture to say that we need a more proactive approach to security versus a reactive one.

When looking specifically at the school security issue, There are 3 ingredients lacking in secure schools. 1) Experience with security protocols and best practices, 2) Maturity with weapons with ability & stability and 3) A respect for the preservation of life, above all else.

On Experience

In Israel, the State pays for one armed security officer. Like the teachers in the school, the security officer has served in the Army for 3 or more years, goes through ongoing training and drills and his firearm is regulated by the State. In Florida, for example, a security officer has gone through less than 2 weeks of training and his past experience may not be ex military or police. There is no required ongoing training. That’s up to the school or site to request or require.

The solution is a security plan where each stakeholder is held accountable and more vitally, drills and scenarios are carried out on a frequent basis to simulate real world responses.

A firefighter or police officer panics.  This is human nature & a normal human reaction, but what takes over is the training and experience they have to override that panic and get the job done.

On Maturity

In Israel most people have Sherut Leumi or National Service. The maturity, respect for weapons and life is unmatched by those who selflessly dedicate three or more years to their country.

While controversial, a requirement for US citizens to attend a year of national service, military or civil, would be a cure for a lot of social ills, aid in maturity and respect for community and country.

It’s not just respect that’s missing from society here, it’s a lack of perspective, empathy and selflessness. With social media focused on the “I” instead of community needs, we are fighting an uphill battle. One just needs to look at Instagram or similar sites to see the focus is not on family or wholesome items, but on the self and and replicating Hollywood, ironically one of the worst purveyors of gun violence and imagery.

In the US, there is a reliance on reactive security or responses from law enforcement who are generally not onsite. In the case of the Parkland shooting, the school police officer was onsite and controversially waited for back up as the shooter continued his rampage unhindered as students bled out on their classroom floor. .

It was also reported that a police officer was suspended for being asleep in his vehicle while on protective duty at the school a few weeks later. This is a lack of maturity, training & experience from the law enforcement and security perspective.

I won’t even address the lack of maturity with politicians. All we have seen and heard is point scoring and diatribes, while kids are STILL unprotected. It’s mind boggling.

With 453,000 unemployed American veterans, schools could have armed security right now. This will deter & detect. Yes, staff need training and that should include teachers, but while we discuss policy and argue over funding or how it should be done, let’s get trained, vetted and experienced guards on those school entrances to help reduce and remove these tragedies.

On the preservation & respect for life above all else

I am happy to walk without a firearm in most places in Israel. I know the reaction to an incident or attack will be very quick and the presence of armed, but more vitally trained & experienced personnel is comforting.

My concern in the US is that I will get shot by a concealed weapons permit holder whose only training and experience is watching YouTube videos or Hollywood movies.

Having a gun is not a replacement for having common sense or other protocols in place. I am pro-gun, but I am more pro education. Israelis have that education. I always say in classes that in Israel you start with using your brain, then body & then weapons. In the United States, you start with your weapons and take it from there.

While both sides of the political spectrum debate, our kids are still prone to attacks and schools are left unguarded. Our most precious asset and our future is our children.

Israelis may be bureaucratic, but when it comes to school or security for the community, they face greater threats and take action quickly.

If we in the United States don’t take proactive steps now, we will, G-d forbid, be revisiting further tragedies sooner than later. Let’s take the first step towards mitigating this madness.

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