Up here in Green Bay, we convicted 3 high school students of thinking about shooting up their high school. Less far north in Wisconsin, a high school student was convicted of shooting a principal to death in his school. Just northwest of us, there were beatings and intimidations, again by high school students inside their high school.
In response to these and other events, the Green Bay school district was understandably concerned. Their solution to the threat of violent crimes by high school students is to require all students to wear their picture IDs hanging from their necks. Unless they forget them at home, in which case they will be issued temporary, non-photographic IDs. No doubt this plan will insure that potential perpetrators of student violence will continue to be freely admitted into school buildings. In my naivite I assumed that we had not had a problem letting violent students into the school buildings, in fact I had assumed that the problem was to keep them out, but we live and learn. I guess that is what schools are for.
There are other policies being put in place as well. I'm not sure in just what way the identical policies were out of place last year, but this year they will be in place.
School doors, for example, will now all be locked during the school day (as opposed to locking only the doors that are not monitored on a full time basis). Last year a colleague from work and I went to a school, already operating under the locked door policy, to see his son's science fair project. From this experience I know that the locked doors are effective at keeping visitors standing in the cold for several extra minutes; I suppose that the thought is that dangerous visitors unexceptionally feel the cold more than legitimate visitors and would therefore be deterred, except in pleasant weather, from entering the building. This may encourage any non-student who wishes to place a bomb in a school to wait for the doors to be unlocked for an after-school event.
Similarly, the schools are putting video cameras in place. Again, I don't know whether the existing video cameras were out of place or just in a different place, but for this school year we are assured that the cameras will be in place. At very low cost, except in taxpayer money, we will now have high-tech video to release to the news media of any, or at least many, or some, crimes which may be committed in our schools. And, unless a criminal student is not recognized by his teachers and classmates (a problem which has not come up in my memory), the TV news will be able to add a detailed and prejudicial voice-over which may, by jeopardizing a fair trial, generate an additional several weeks of easy reporting in the following months.
[Adapted from the original of August 18, 2007]