Safety Is Your Mission

By Charles K. Trainor

In May 1927, three bombs were detonated at Michigan’s Bath Consolidated School. The explosions killed 48 people and injured 58 others. Most were sixth- and seventh-graders. A disgruntled school board member, in the midst of foreclosure proceedings, was the culprit in what remains the deadliest attack on a school in U.S. history.

In April 1999, the nation was shocked by the events at Columbine High School in Colorado. Two seniors turned weapons on their classmates, killing 12 students and a teacher and injuring 21 others.

In both cases, members of the school community were responsible for the carnage, but schools face threats from outsiders as well. In April 2003, a New Orleans student was murdered and three others were injured when two men entered the John McDonogh High School, armed with an AK-47 and a semiautomatic pistol. In October 2006, a lone gunman seized hostages in the West Nickel Mine School in Lancaster County, Pa. After killing five children, the gunman committed suicide.

Whether danger arises from within the school community or from the outside, school violence remains a serious, recurring problem. In addition to the loss of life, the consequences of ignoring safety measures can be catastrophic. They affect the learning environment and result in long-term, costly litigation. 

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