As we reflect upon the events of the last two days, our thoughts and prayers remain with the education community in Broward County.
Over the past 48 hours, students, parents and our staff have come together to make our district stronger in light of this tragedy. We want to thank those of you who have reported concerns, especially our students who when they see something, are saying something.
As Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins and Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno underscored in a news conference yesterday, the safety and security of students is our highest priority.
With that in mind, we wanted to share some of the things we currently do, and will continue to build upon in the next days and weeks:
- Enhanced law enforcement presence on our campuses
- Reinforced safety protocols at all of our schools
- Increased safety and security training and drills with staff, students and local law enforcement
- Continued assessment of our campuses to strengthen security at all schools
- Implementation of advanced security technology at all of our schools
We want you to know that we will to do everything in our power to ensure our students and employees, along with family and visitors to our facilities, are safe, and have the support they need.
Sign up for active shooter training.
If you see suspicious activity, let an authority know right away.
Many places have plans in place to help you respond safely. Ask about these plans and get familiar with them. If you participate in an active shooter drill, talk to your family about what you learn and how to apply it to other locations.
When you visit a building take time to identify two nearby exits. Get in the habit of doing this.
Map out places to hide. Solid doors with locks, rooms without windows, and heavy furniture like large filing cabinets and desks make good hiding places.
Sign up for first aid and tourniquet training.
RUN. Getting away from the shooter or shooters is the top priority. Leave your things behind and run away. If safe to do so, warn others nearby. Call 911 when you are safe. Describe each shooter, their locations, and weapons.
HIDE. If you can’t get away safely, find a place to hide. Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet. Silence your electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate. Lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off the lights. Don’t hide in groups — spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the shooter. Try to communicate with police silently—like through text messages or by putting a sign in an exterior window. Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.
FIGHT. Your last resort when you are in immediate danger is to defend yourself. Commit to your actions and act aggressively to stop the shooter. Ambushing the shooter together with makeshift weapons such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, and books can distract and disarm the shooter.
AFTER (Be Safe)
Keep hands visible and empty.
Know that law enforcement’s first task is to end the incident, and they may have to pass injured along the way.
Follow law enforcement instructions and evacuate in the direction they come from.
Consider seeking professional help for you and your family to cope with the long-term effects of the trauma.
Violence Prevention in Schools
School attacks are not random and are often planned in advance. In 93% of incidents of targeted school violence, the perpetrator planned the attack in advance. In 81% of planned incidents, others knew about the attack ahead of time. There are often warning signs before the attack. In 93% of incidents of targeted school violence, the student engaged in behavior that elicited concern prior to the attack.
Other students and peers are usually the first to know about an impending attack. Common reasons students give for not reporting a threat or suspicious behavior include being fearful of negative repercussions for reporting the behavior, not believing the threat was real, not knowing who to advise and thinking they had more time to decide how to react.
Students can make a difference in the safety and environment of their school.
What YOU do as students matters and can save lives
- Take all threats seriously, even those done in a joking manner.
- Report a threat, incident or suspicious behavior even if you think others are already aware. Don't assume someone else has already said something.
- Be aware of threats and posts made in online blogs and social media postings.
Source: Violence Prevention in Schools by U.S. Dept. of Justice
Helping Children Cope
Few events hit home for children and families like a school shooting. When children see such an event on television or on Web-based news flashes, it is natural for them to worry about their own school and their own safety, particularly if the violence occurred nearby or in a neighboring city or state.
Talk to your children
Psychologists who work in the area of trauma and recovery advise parents to use the troubling news of school shootings as an opportunity to talk and listen to their children. It is important, say these psychologists, to be honest. Parents should acknowledge to children that bad things do happen, but also reassure them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers and local police.
Limit exposure to news coverage
Research has shown that some young children believe that the events are reoccurring each time they see a television replay of the news footage.
Know the warning signs
Most children are quite resilient and will return to their normal activities and personality relatively quickly, but parents should be alert to any signs of anxiety that might suggest that a child or teenager might need more assistance.
Source: American Psychological Association
Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.
- Reassure children that they are safe.
- Make time to talk.
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
- Review safety procedures.
- Observe children’s emotional state.
- Limit television viewing of these events.
- Maintain a normal routine.
Source: NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers