School Safety: Are the new procedures enough to keep us safe?


Photo by Viggo Jabon

New drop boxes located outside of the front doors

Lauren Oligino


According to, that is how many people have died in school shootings since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened when I was in fifth grade. I can still vividly recall everything about that day: the sunny weather, the hushed whispers of my teachers, the horrific videos on the news, the conversation with my parents later that night.

Most importantly, I remember how school security changed after that day. Soon after, new locks were installed throughout the district, it became difficult to get inside the building after school hours, and lockdown drills were more frequent and taken more seriously.

Once again, Westfield schools have increased their security measures in all schools, but this time it is due to a school shooting scare in our own community. In June, a man was found at Tamaques Elementary School with a .45-caliber handgun loaded with hollow point bullets and 130 rounds of ammunition in his trunk.

From the first day of school this year, both students and parents have expressed differing opinions on the security updates.

Some people have said that the new updates are not strong enough to protect the school from tragedy. One common suggestion is placing an armed guard in the schools. However, both Parkland and Columbine had an armed guard, and it did not help.

Others have asserted that the new security measures are too strict or too harsh. I have heard students say that WHS feels more like a prison than a school now. Unfortunately, we live in a time where it is better to be safe than sorry.

While there is validity to both arguments, I do not believe the security makes much difference. Many times school shootings happen by students who feel as if they do not belong in the school. It does not matter if you check a student’s ID at the front door or do not let them in the building until 7 a.m., they can still have a gun in their backpack, and no one would know.

With a population of around 2,000 students, our school is just too large to regulate everything. Just because students can only enter through the front and back doors does not mean that a student can‘t open one of the many side doors for someone with a gun. At that point, it does not matter if you give the student who opened the door detention or caught it on a security camera.

Even if you put a gate down during after-school activities, a person can still come in with a gun or place a bomb in the unblocked hallway and seriously harm people.

However, the new classroom, auditorium and cafeteria doors are the best investment of the new security measures. With the shatterproof coating on the windows and automatic locks in particularly vulnerable areas, the doors could be helpful with preventing a shooter from entering the rooms.

At the end of the day, it does not matter how much school security you put in a building. The only way to prevent a school shooting is to foster a nurturing culture. While it is taboo to talk about, it is common knowledge that anxiety, depression and bullying are problems at WHS.

Instead of spending money on security that may not make an impact in preventing school shootings, funds should be dedicated to finding wellness programs that help to heal WHS’ fractured environment. Until then, Westfield schools may never truly be safe.