What is the price of a life? Our children’s lives, our fathers’, mothers’, teachers’ and police officers’ lives are priceless. What does it cost to protect them? The answer is, shockingly, not very much.
A simple Google search pulls up the following: “Portal metal detectors vary widely in price. Portals on the market range from as little as $1,000 up to as much as $30,000. The moderately-priced models around $4,000 to $5,000 probably offer the features and reliabilities required for a school metal detection program.” Further inquiry reveals that multiple detectors are usually needed in larger schools, and personnel must be trained to man them.
No amount of anti-bullying psycho-babble, anti-gun control legislation, political correctness or activist-marching will keep a disturbed person from finding a way into a school or building while carrying a gun. Three hundred students in a cafeteria can easily and unknowingly hide one crazy student willing to pull a fire alarm to create a group of sitting ducks to be shot down on their way to an exit during a fire drill.
Arguments against metal detection systems in schools vary. They are too expensive, kids will feel like they are in a prison, students will feel unsafe while in school, their Fourth Amendment rights on unreasonable search and seizure will be violated, staff will need special training, and on and on ad infinitum. Personnel will need to be trained in how to diffuse a situation as quickly as possible, and students need to know what to do when a “situation” arises. But, those things are already in place. They didn’t stop the shooter in Santa Fe, Texas, as he killed 10 and wounded many others.
Most of our children are already fearful of almost everything. We are truly creating a generation of “snowflakes” waiting to melt under any sort of pressure, including what to eat for breakfast, what or what not to wear to school, or what to study or not study that keeps them from being independent and standing up for themselves. It’s time to care about just how much importance those things have when those children are dead, killed by a piece of hard, cold metal that could have shown up on a detection device.
A metal detection system must be one part of a larger comprehensive security plan developed by parents, schools and the state and local community. It won’t solve or cure all security issues, but the arguments against such systems surely must not be that they cost too much money to implement. What is the price of a life, after all?
As a footnote, I am reminded of a University of Cincinnati classmate, Lionel Brown, who became an art teacher, a school principal and later the interim superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, finishing his career as a director in the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services department at the University of Cincinnati. He had the courage while principal of Bloom Junior High in inner-city Cincinnati to actually chain, lock and bolt the doors of the school, from the inside, to keep his students safe. He made national headlines and was profiled on national TV. He was vilified by some, but he fought for what he believed. That was 40 years ago. We need more Lionel Browns. We need courageous leaders to step up and protect our students and teachers from putting a price on the lives of our children.
Linda Atkins Lange, Carmel