From the email:
A Note from Glenn:
If this is the first special report you're reading, please take a minute to review the ones from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday first so that you have a better understanding of exactly what "The Perfect Day" is.
Today's report is all about preparation, not panic. Our report, from Kenneth Trump, one of the country's foremost school security experts, has many great tips-but there is a lot more you need to know (especially when it comes to terror scenarios) so please be sure to also take a look at his website, which is included at the end of the article.
Also, as I've been telling you all week, we've obtained a video that allegedly shows terrorists in Afghanistan training for a school takeover scenario and barking out commands in English. Although there were at least eight hours of footage captured by our military, we were asked by our source to only release a very short clip for security reasons and we are honoring that request. Click here to see the video.
AWARE AND PREPARED, NOT SCARED!
By Kenneth Trump
Fear is reduced by education, communication, and preparation-not by sticking our heads in the sand.
Before we can talk about specific steps to prepare kids, families, and educators, we first have to prepare ourselves mentally by acknowledging (in a non-alarmist, pragmatic manner) that a terror attack on an American school is not an unrealistic possibility.
We cannot change the climate if we do not change the conversation. Most public officials inside the D.C. Beltway have publicly taken a "downplay, deny, and deflect" position about this threat for fear of creating panic, but how can we prepare for something if no one will talk about it?
Below is some practical advice, directed to three distinct groups: parents, children, and school officials. Following these steps will put your family and your school way ahead of the pack when it comes to preparedness.
Tips for Parents
1. Create a family plan. Simple steps can make a difference: Identify a long distance family member for everyone to call if the family is separated. Identify neighborhood and distant family reunification locations and create a "code word" known only to your family members.
2. Have age and developmentally-appropriate communications with your kids. Be honest and open. Focus on facts and context. Reassure them of measures that adults have taken to keep them safe. Reduce fear of the unknown by teaching kids what to do.
3. Ask your kids where they see weaknesses and how they would improve security at their schools.
4. Talk with school leaders to make sure they have active crisis plans, not just plans sitting on shelves collecting dust. Ask probing questions to make sure they are implementing best practices in school emergency planning, including those listed below.
5. Support school administrators in their safety efforts. Follow security procedures set by schools-the rules apply to everyone. Volunteer for safety and crisis committees. Help put together parent awareness presentations on school security and emergency preparedness. Support principals and boards that do the right thing.
Tips for Children
1. Know your family plan.
2. Know what school officials need you to do in a crisis to keep you safe.
3. Take your school's drills, such as lockdowns and evacuations, and your family's crisis plans seriously.
4. If you have questions, ask them. If you have ideas and suggestions, share them!
Tips for Schools
1. Have an active, updated emergency plan. Most schools have crisis plans and crisis teams on paper, but fewer schools involve first responders in developing the plan contents, updating their plans at least annually, and requiring crisis teams to meet regularly. Make school emergency planning and safety a part of your school's culture.
2. Practice drills such as lockdowns and evacuations. Participate in tabletop exercises with hypothetical scenarios with first responders and other community partners to make sure school crisis plans written on paper may work in a real emergency.
3. Train teachers and support staff on crime prevention, security, and emergency preparedness best practices, and on their school's specific crisis guidelines.
4. Improve physical security measures and crime prevention policies. Have security assessments conducted by specialists knowledgeable in professional security best practices.
5. Conduct thorough background checks for all school employees. Most schools do the minimal criminal history checks of select employees required by their state laws. Fewer do comprehensive background investigations that include criminal history checks along with examinations of work histories and validation of educational credentials.
6. Work closely with public safety officials. Meet at least annually to review and update school plans. Make sure police and fire officials have updated floor plans of the school. Invite police to use school facilities after-hours or on weekends to train for active shooter and other tactical operations.
Our public officials need to know that we, as Americans, recognize how serious the potential threat of terrorism in our schools really is. Take just 10 minutes today or tomorrow to call your Congressman and Senators' offices to let them know that you want federal homeland security policy and funding to better include our nation's schools. Our elected officials need to know that they will be held accountable if something happens while they continue to deny the threat and fail to include our schools on the list of potential terror targets.
Kenneth S. Trump, M.P.A. is President of the National School Safety and Security Services. For additional information and resources, visit www.schoolsecurity.org.