Industry Focus

The New World We Live In

I’m old enough to remember fire alarm drills and hiding under my desk as a youth. The fire alarm drills were great because we were able to leave the classroom and go outside. I never understood hiding under the desk, but went along with it anyway. That’s the world I grew up in.

Today’s world has changed. Significantly.

To the youthful tune of, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” students are now being educated about what to do in the event of an active shooter on campus. It goes something like this:

“Lockdown, Lockdown, Lock the door Shut the lights off, Say no more Go behind the desk and hide Wait until it’s safe inside Lockdown, Lockdown it’s all done Now it’s time to have some fun!”

This little jingle caught me completely off guard but is being rehearsed throughout numerous schools. In Somerville, Mass., a school has this new rendition posted on the wall and parents were as surprised as I was.

As a newly minted, rebranded parental figure, this really shocked me, though it seems to be the new world that we live in. That’s not to say that a simple nursery rhyme will save the day, but whatever it takes to give the children the opportunity to stay safe.

The poster caught the attention of Georgy Cohen and her husband, Rick Healey, who were at the school in preparation of sending their 5-year-old daughter to kindergarten in the fall. Healey said he was “saddened” to see the poster, but recognized why the approach may be necessary in an era of school shootings.

In a joint statement to The Washington Post, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper said the poem was an example of a teacher’s strategy to “help her young students stay calm and remember the key steps they would need to follow during a drill or real emergency.”

“As much as we would prefer that school lockdowns not be a part of the educational experience, unfortunately this is the world we live in,” the statement said.

Forget that old saying of, “not in my school.” The reality is that an active shooter will happen again. It is not if, but when. Schools are scrambling to do whatever they can to prepare and protect students and staff, whether it be a bulletproof backpack or a nursery rhyme that teaches proper procedures during an active shooter event.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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