Virginia Tech and now this… school lock-downs are our future

A 15-year-old boy was killed last week at a high school where I spoke a month ago. Two of his classmates at C.W. Jeffreys High School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada were charged yesterday with the crime of gunning down Jeffrey Manners in cold blood in a school hall in the middle of a school day.

I am horrified by this killing, and I really regret not bringing up the topic of "safety in our schools" when I spoke to 450 C.W. Jeffreys High School students last month. I only had 60 minutes to interact with them; I walked away from dozens of unanswered questions about how kids can understand their rights in the workplace.

C.W.Jefferys is located in a high-needs part of Toronto; the students there represent almost 50 nations and speak dialects from all parts of the world. They are an amazing collection of future leaders, and I was honored to meet them and share my story of losing my teenage son to a workplace accident.

I was taken into the C.W. Jeffreys office by then principal Ann Kojima, and given a list of post-secondary scholarship winners from the school to study business, engineering, math, sciences and humanities. The opportunity to achieve and impact the way we live is not taken for granted by students or staff at C.W.Jeffreys.


What would provoke students to bring a hand gun to a place of learning?


 The Ontario Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne responded correctly last week by publicly asking, "What would provoke students enough to bring a hand gun to a place of learning?

"There is no simple solution to keep schools safe at all times," Minister Wynne continued. "If there were, it would already be in place."

Putting more cameras and computer monitors in schools (C.W. Jeffreys had them on order when the killing happened) will help with patrolling the halls for intruders. But that will never be enough; we need everybody's input - students, staff, parents, police and the community at large - to help protect our halls of learning.

You can help by starting to ask questions:

  • Ask your kids at home do they know exactly a "lock-down plan" looks like and why it's important.
  • Ask the school if their lock-down drills are conducted without or without a heads-up.
  • Do substitute teachers know what to do during a lock-down?
  • Is there a code or phrase that students should recognize as an emergency lock-down notification?

Don't just point your finger at government failings


If you're a student, email or pick up your cell phone and ask your school staff how you can help. They need your support and POSITIVE suggestions.

As a parent or concerned citizen, consider yourself a community partner and volunteer your innovative safety ideas to the school system. Let's not point the finger at government officials to deal with safety in our schools; we need to own this issue ourselves!

Schools are places of learning and understanding - not shooting grounds. We've seen the reality of killings at C.W.Jefferys and Virginia Tech and Montreal's Dawson College (last year) and… (the list is depressingly long).

Let's find better and innovative safety solutions for our schools together. Please, do it in memory of an outstanding young man, Jordan Manners, who died last week in a place he loved - his school.

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