The problem of school safety has been in the public’s attention for an extended time. The mass shooting that occurred at Majority Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and resulted in 17 deaths, including 14 students and 3staff members, stressed the problems with the security systems at schools. The tragic incident that happened due to several security malfunctions emphasized the need for safer schools and improved programs for School Resource Officers (SROs).
The Parkland shooting was substantially covered in the media due to the victims’ frustration with the frequency of such events in the US. The victims used their social media to express their horror and sadness and organized protests to raise awareness about gun violence (O’Neil et al., 2019). Surveillance footage of the incident that was released later captured multiple malfunctions of the security system. The footage showed that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was able to walk into the school with a gun undetected as the gates and doors were ‘unlocked and unstaffed’ (ABC News, 2018). Moreover, the bullets set off a fire alarm that caused the students and teachers to escape the classrooms. As surveillance footage in school had a 20-minute delay, the police officers could not detect Cruz, who had already escaped at that point. The SRO’s inactivity and refusal to perform his duties to stop the shooter aggravated the situation. Glenn et al. (2018) proposed to include more officers in the schools and equipping the SROs with rifle-rated vests. The incident attracted attention to the need for SRO’s training programs on active shooting.
In conclusion, the core reason of why school shootings happen so frequently in the US lies in the failure of the security system. Solving the issue requires additional resources to improve the SROs’ training programs, providing at least one SRO to every school, and equipping the SROs with required equipment for active shooter response. Moreover, the fire alarm systems and surveillance systems need an update to ensure students’ safety.
ABC News. (2018). New video and details emerge from Parkland shooting [Video]. YouTube.
Glenn, J.W., Taylor, L.C., Chesterton, H.P., Williams, S., & Moavenzadeh, F. (2019). Understanding school-based policing: Recommendations for improving School Resource Officer programs and promoting safer schools. Safer Communities, 18(3/4), 132–142. doi:10.1108/sc-05-2019-0015
O’Neil, J., McCuddy, T., & Esbensen, F. (2019). Perceptions of school safety in the aftermath of a shooting: Challenge to internal validity. In M. Deflem & D. Silva (Eds.), Methods of Criminology and Criminal Justice Research (pp.115–132). Emerald Publishing.