As a grandfather, I pray every day for my granddaughter's safety. Naturally I want her not only to be safe, but feel safe as well.
Thus, I applaud efforts such as those recently at Bingham School, where a new security system was installed at the school. A digital buzzer entry system now is in place where visitors can enter into the building, but only get to the first set of doors, which are locked. At that point, they now will have to "buzz in."
"We installed the system because we want to ensure we are able to see each visitor before he or she is allowed inside the school with our students," Robin Benson, head of the school, said. "Our recorded video surveillance cameras have enabled us to see who comes in, but the buzzer system takes student security a step further by allowing us to not only see the person close up before they enter, but determine if they should enter."
All of which is great. I applaud Bingham's approach, which seems as good a system as any.
At the same time I pause, however, and wish all this security wasn't really needed.
I think back to my public school days and reminisce about simpler times. And every time I read a story about school security systems, metal detecting screenpoints or patrol dogs in the hallways, I remember my first inauguration into that environment.
I attended a suburban Pittsburgh, Pa., school district growing up and in sports, we sometimes played more urban-based Pittsburgh schools. One of those in particular was rougher than most. It was at that school where a police car greeted the school bus of athletes at the community's boundaries and escorted the bus on to the school. As we exited the bus, we quickly were herded into the school, past the armed security guards and down to the locker room.
Was all that necessary? In the post-segregation world at the time, it probably made some sense.
Certainly it left an impression. I can remember it as vividly today writing about it as I did then living it out.
It's not a pleasant memory. I've always thought it a direct contradiction to the school days that I experienced.
I suppose for the new generations of students who experience buzzer security systems, video surveillance cameras and other measures of increased protection, it will be their new and accepted norm. They won't know life as anything different.
Which comes full circle to where I began.
I wish they could have.