Every few weeks we read about some individual, who for some reason, decided to take a gun and mow down a few people in a public place. Often that public place is a school somewhere in the world....people minding their own business, children learning in a place that is supposed to keep them safe during the day while they aren't with their parents.
Few of these episodes have happened in South Africa so far, but we all know that every school is by nature a place where these things can happen tomorrow!
During enrolment interviews, parents often ask me about safety at our school. I laughingly tell them that the fence was put up to protect the copper piping in the school! Although that is the truth, the other truth is that schools are open to the public and any 'public' is not necessarily a good public. Every time we press the remote to open the front gate while all other school gates are locked during the day, we allow a person who could be masquerading as a parent, access to the school. Who determines what a parent looks like? And are all parents, just because they are parents, safe for all children?
Pinelands North has a safety plan, we take all precautions we can to protect our school community, we conduct drills every term, we care for the emotions of our people and we have put safety devices like cameras all over the school. Will this keep us safe?
Safety is our joint responsibility. If every adult who passes through the school, and every child who has access to the school daily, is vigilant about who is around them and what those people are doing, maybe we will stay safer than most schools not too far from us. The reality is though, that schools are not safe places, no matter how much time and effort we put into trying to protect the people therein.