“I don’t want to die.” Those are the words from a little girl to her mom about starting first grade.
I’m doing a story today about security in local schools. That mom, Christina Berry, shared that concern her daughter had with Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.
Sheriff Chronister and Berry toured a school. He showed her the massive security upgrades. Millions spent to “harden” all these schools.
Fortified walls. Live cameras everywhere. Emergency buttons on every school employee’s identification card.
Sheriff Chronister believes every school is as safe as it can be. “I don’t think anyone could sit and ever say that it’s foolproof… that it will never happen where they are. But… I don’t think there is one more thing that we could do to reduce the likelihood of a school shooting on campus than what we have already done.”
This all has me thinking… it’s come to this. A little girl worrying that she might die at school. A mom scared to send her child to first grade. School districts forced to spend millions on security upgrades. Law enforcement having to assure parents that schools are as safe as they can be.
When I was in school, the biggest concern we had was a fire. That once a month drill where we all lined up and walked out of school. Times have changed… and not for the better.
Part of the reason for all this concern is the the Valentine’s Day 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 killed. 17 wounded.
The deadliest high school shooting ever in the United States. Following the shooting, schools all across Florida began upgrading their security.
Speaking of Parkland, the shooter is still waiting to learn his fate. He’s admitted he did it… now a jury has to decide if he gets life in prison or the death penalty.
It must be grueling for these survivors and victims’ families to relive that day all over again. The jury hearing the case just toured the bloodstained halls of Stoneman.
The building where the shooting happened has been essentially unchanged since the shooting. That’s according to the Washington Post. Laptops still open. A copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in one classroom. Valentine’s gifts. Also, bullet holes and blood.
I can’t imagine what that must be like. Seeing that school like that. Heartbreaking.
School security became an even bigger issue after Uvalde. The New York Times had a piece over the weekend called “The Excruciating Echo of Grief in Uvalde.”
21 people killed at Robb Elementary on May 24. The Times has a photo of a math book of one of the slain children. It is riddled with bullet holes. Horrible.
How does that little town in south Texas move forward? “Uvalde Strong,” the sign says on the back window of a 1960’s era Chevy Impala.
School starts here in a few days. Sheriff Chronister made that parent feel better about sending her first grader off to school.
The Sheriff answered the safety question this way: “Is your child safe going to school in Hillsborough County? You’re absolutely right, they are.”