Speaking Out on School Safety

In the March/April Principal's Speaking Out column, Ari Gerzon-Kessler addresses concerns over school safety in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. In his article, "Childhood in Lockdown," Gerzon-Kessler argues the need for a sensible approach to keeping schools safe.

Acknowledging the difficulty of balancing the need to protect children from violence with the desire to make students feel safe and comfortable in their day-to-day lives, Gerzon-Kessler writes:

"The key ingredient in a sane response, from my perspective, is community." He notes that each school's community is different, so different solutions will emerge that are appropriate to each school. Community dialogues also have the added benefit of strengthening bonds that create safe school atmospheres.

Gerzon-Kessler also emphasizes the need to connect with students themselves. He argues that communities must ask themselves, “How can we touch the hearts and feed the souls of all students so that there are no Adam Lanzas, who experience 13 years of schooling without having their hearts touched?”

Though Gerzon-Kessler doesn't encourage hastily implemented, poorly thought-out school safety measures, he still acknowledges that principals are forced—in the current moment—to face the challenge of keeping their schools safe. How can schools balance keeping children safe while still allowing them to feel free and comfortable? Leave your comments below.

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