Editorial: Student's shouldn't take school safety for granted

Twenty-six lives were lost all in one day. Twenty of those belonged to  kids who just went about their day-to-day routine. Nobody could’ve foreseen such a tragedy, so of course there was no plan. Who would gun down kindergarteners? Twenty kids won’t experience the horrors of puberty or the joy of marriage because there was no safety plan.

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, schools around the nation have been revamping their safety plans and ensuring that they are prepared for such emergencies. But why now? Did it take 26 lives for people to realize that we don’t value the safety of our future? That would appear to be the case.

Even here at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, there seems to be an air of overconfidence in the safety of our school. While it is important for students to have a safe learning environment, it is equally as important to make sure that students, staff and faculty know what to do in case of an emergency.

We have fire and earthquake drills, on average, twice a year and even then, the majority of students don’t take them seriously. It’s taken for granted that our school is nestled in between three larger schools and a school police station. We don’t really think about what could happen, we just assume that it won’t.

This needs to change. The amount of increased security around schools and officers stopping by for a short while will not matter if students and teachers aren’t aware of the possibilities. The anonymous help line, WeTip, that was put in place to allow students to report suspicious or unsavory behavior has only been successfully utilized four times according to DPMHS principal Deborah Smith.

Even around DPMHS, who is part of a program where LAPD officers visit the campus once a day, students don’t realize the extremes people are going to in order to maintain their safety.

When asked how familiar they were with their school’s safety plan, one student replied “Do we even have a safety plan?” Regardless of the fact that there is a binder dedicated to the school’s safety plan sitting in the main office, it’s definitely discomforting that 99% of the students at DPMHS don’t know a plan even exists.

According to a report by ABC 7, it did take this tragedy in Connecticut to wake up California lawmakers. California State Senator Ted Lieu has taken it upon himself to refurbish and perfect school safety plans all over the state.

After the shooting in Connecticut Lieu checked some statistics and found that over 50% of California schools did not comply with the California school safety standards.

Don’t let those 26 lives have been lost for nothing. Take this wake up call and use it to make a change. Whether you attend an elementary school in the middle of a forested Newtown or a high school in the middle of Lake Balboa, be aware of your surroundings and be prepared.