Securing Our Schools: The Need For Safety In The Classroom

250 years of Violence in our schools: a tragic timeline

Securing Schools

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1764: Enoch Brown school shooting massacre: four Lenape American Indian entered the schoolhouse near Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and nine or ten children

April 9, 1891: The first known mass shooting in the U.S. where students were shot, when 70 year old James Foster fired a shotgun at a group of students in the playground of St. Mary’s Parochial School, Newburgh, New York

August 1966: Charles Whitman opened fire from the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, killing 16 people and wounding 31.

April 20, 1999 Littleton, Colorado: 14 students (including shooters) and one teacher killed, 27 others wounded at Columbine High School in the nation’s deadliest school shooting. Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, had plotted for a year to kill at least 500 and blow up their school.

March 24, 1998, Jonesboro, Ark.: Four students and one teacher killed, ten others wounded outside as Westside Middle School emptied during a false fire alarm.

Oct. 3, 2006, Nickel Mines, Pa.: 32-year-old Carl Charles Roberts IV entered the one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School and shot 10 schoolgirls, and then himself.

April 16, 2007, Blacksburg, Va.: A 23-year-old Virginia Tech student, Cho Seung-Hui, killed two in a dorm, then killed 30 more 2 hours later in a classroom building. His suicide brought the death toll to 33, making the shooting rampage the most deadly in U.S. history.

Dec. 14, 2012, Newton, Connecticut: Twenty-six people — 20 students and six adults — were shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School by 20 year old Adam Lanza.
QUOTE: “This was like our 9/11 for school teachers.” – said by a teacher in Florida to the Associated Press

The cold, hard facts:

Since 1980, 297 people have been killed in school shootings.

Elementary schools saw the fewest shootings (17), while high schools saw the most (62)

Lessons learned, steps taken:

After the Columbine shootings:
Some schools across the country turned themselves into near-fortresses

Kindergarden students huddled beneath desks in a lockdown drill. Such drills have become common.

Some schools installed metal detectors and security cameras, banned backpacks, required students to carry IDs and posted police in the hallways — all in the name of keeping students safe.

In time, experts realized the first and best line of defense is always a well-trained, highly alert staff and student body.

The No. 1 way we find out about weapons in schools is not from a piece of equipment but from a kid who comes forward and reports it to an adult that he or she trusts

FACT: Allocations for the Department of Education’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools program were cut by a third between 1999 and 2008, to about $294.8 million. And a program that has put about 6,300 police officers in public schools since Columbine was scrapped by the U.S. Department of Justice after 2005.

FACT: A 2008 Secret Service report found that in more than 80 percent of instances of school violence, at least one person, usually a fellow student or peer, had knowledge of the attackers’ plans.

After the Virginia Tech massacre
38 states banned students from carrying or using weapons in schools – 16 of which have specifically banned guns from any part of a college campus.

EBay stopped allowing the sale of firearm parts and ammunition on the popular site after it was learned that the shooter had purchased 10-round magazines for his gun on the site.

Schools in the US as well as abroad made changes to their own school safety politicies and procedures in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings.

Changes to then Federal Gun Laws were made and loopholes that allowed the shooter, who was deemed mentally unstable, to purchase a gun were closed. Now someone with a known history of mental illness like Seung-Hui Cho are not allowed to purchase guns or ammunition.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre:
Some districts have trained teachers and school staff to carry guns in case of a school shooter.

Uniformed police are being hired to patrol the halls in some districts

Since January, 2013, about 4,500 people across the country have been trained in mental health first aid for children.

Schools need counselors, psychologists and officers building relationships with kids, because they are the best line of defense.

Districts are looking at how to harden the infrastructure of their schools.

Besides shoring up windows, schools around the country were busy over the summer doing things like installing new locks on classroom doors.
Administrators realized every school should have crisis teams that review their plans regularly; every school would be wise to re-evaluate its security measures.
Infrastructure changes: Some schools are building single, prominent entryways, and reduced landscaping that once provided a place to hide. Restrooms are being shifted away from entryways and moved. Simpler keyless entry systems on doors make it less tempting to prop them open. Elaborate announcement systems that let police address a shooter without speaking to every classroom are being installed.

Some schools (with money) have invested in a high-tech system called Security Alert for Education (SAFE). Here, teachers wear a pendant that amplifies their voice during lectures — but also has a panic button button that allows them to immediately alert 911 during an emergency. Cameras mounted in classrooms are integrated into the system
The NRA suggests having armed police officers in the halls

Experts say: Major components and tasks for creating a safe school climate include:

Assessment of the school’s emotional climate;
Emphasis on the importance of listening in schools;
Adoption of a strong, but caring stance against the code of silence;
Prevention of, and intervention in, bullying, cyber-bullying;
Involvement of all members of the school community in planning, creating, and sustaining a school culture of safety and respect;
Development of trusting relationships between each student and at least one adult at school;
Creation of mechanisms for developing and sustaining safe school climates;
Schools need systems for identifying violent children and proactively intervening in their lives;
Recognizing that sometimes, adolescent mood swings and behavior changes might not be due to hormones or stress, but to substance abuse.


Sue Scheff: Bully Bust Your School and Community Today

Do we need to hear more acts of violence, bullying and vicious text rage?  Do we need to hear it escalating to text hit lists or teens making bombs?  In reality, this is not an exageration, it is happening. 

In Broward County we have the horrific stories of Josie Lou Ratley, an eight grader that was nearly beaten to death and Michael Brewer, a teen that was nearly burned to death.

In Brevard County we have Cameron Lee Kage, a teen that was accused of creating a deadly bomb with all the materials and instructions to potentially set it off at his school.

In Duval County there is Anthony Jones that was allegedly on a text hit list in his school and was shot.

We don’t need another incident to wake-up our state and our county the serious cry for help with our teens and kids today.

BullyBust is is an awareness campaign designed to reduce bullying in schools by teaching students and adults how to stand up to bullying and promote upstander behavior. An upstander is someone who witnesses bully behavior and does something about it. Use the resources on to transform your school or community from one of passive bystanders to a community of positive upstanders. Together we can put an end to bullying!

Educators, get critical supports for your school and join a dedicated community of schools nationwide: Sign up for the Partner School Program today.

Join BullyBust on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Sign the BullyBust Stand UP Pledge today!

Read more.

Sue Scheff: Teen Nearly Bullied To Death, Josie Lou Ratley, Is Finally Showing Signs of Hope

After almost three weeks of being in a medically induced coma, Josie Lou Ratley is showing signs of improvement.  On Easter Sunday, as her mother prepared a basket full of art supplies, a large stuffed bunny, chocolate and more, a sign of hope occurred as Josie has began to slightly move.

Channel 10 Just News reported Josie’s mother Hilda Ratley was at her bedside and are thrilled with these new signs of hope.  Doctors have decreased her medication and are slowly bringing her out of the coma. Sun-Sentinel reported earlier  this evening of this sign of progress.

On this Easter Sunday, miracles do happen.  Last reported, Josie’s condition had taken a turn for the worse, however with the many prayers and support and love from her  family, friends and so many supporters, there is light. 

March 17th, this beautiful young eighth grader was nearly beaten to death allegedly over a dispute of upsetting text messages.  As a Broward County judge has issued a gag order on discussing the details of this case, two teens, Wayne Treacy and Kayla Manson remain in Broward County’s Juvenile Detention Center.

The Ratley family does not  have medical insurance and our community has come together with many fundraisers.  Learn more by joining Pray for Josie Lou Ratley Facebook Group.  It is nearly 1000 supporters and growing. 

You can also donate to any Wachovia Bank to continue  to help Josie and her Family by donating at ANY by mailing your donations to:

Wachovia Bank
2989 PGA Boulevard
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.
Please make checks payable to “The Josie Lou Ratley Fund”

Or you can donate online. Just click on the gold “Donate” button on Josie’s page at:

This is an Easter miracle many have been praying for, and may it only get better from here. 
The power of pray is evident.

Watch Video and read more. – Click here.

Sue Scheff: Josie Ratley’s Condition Worsens (teen beaten nearly to death by other teen)

On March 17th, 2010, our community was shocked, horrified and stunned to hear of a 15 year-old eighth grader, Josie Ratley that was severely beaten nearly to death by another teen, Wayne Treacy

After spending two weeks at Broward General Hospital and undergoing two surgeries on her brain, Josie condition has worsened as pneumonia and the left side of her brain shows damage.

In the recent attack on Josie Ratley, Broward Circuit Judge Elijah Williams issued a temporary gag order on March 25th, barring talks about the facts of the case against the 15-year-old suspect Wayne Treacy until April 6, 2010.

However we are now all waiting for Josie Lou Ratley to wake up and start healing.  It was announced this week  that in addition to still being in a coma and not being able to breath on her own, she also has pneumonia and the left side of her brain is showing signs of damage.

The family had prayed she would be able to open her eyes by now but family members now realize that this could turn into a marathon,” said the Ratley family attorney, Rick Freedman.

The pneumonia has filled up her lungs and clogged them with fluid,” Freedman said. “Just when you think you’ve taken one step forward, you take one step back. I would say the family is frustrated. They had hoped to be able to talk to her.” – CBS News

What can you do to help?  Keep the Ratley family and Josie in your prayers this Easter weekend and always.  Join her Facebook page – Pray for Josie Lou Ratley and support the family with your loving words of support and love.

There are also many fundraisers planned to benefit the Ratley family who is without medical insurance. 

Another fundraiser just added is Wildlife Adventure on Saturday April 10th, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  GatorBoys are holding a “wildlife adventure” on the grounds of The West Broward Community Church. Come out and see gator wrestling, grizzly bear exhibits and misc. kids activities. Proceeds will benefit The Josie Lou Ratley Fund.

If you would like to send get well cards, please mail to  the address below:

Broward General Medical Center
Patient Josie Lou Ratley
1600 S. Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Donations can be made directly to:

Wachovia Bank
2989 PGA Boulevard
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.
Please make checks payable to “The Josie Lou Ratley Fund“.

CJ’s Draft House
in Deerfield Beach will hold a fund raiser for the Josie on April 11, accepting donations and dedicating a portion of its revenues to a fund for Ratley.

Read more and watch video update here.

Sue Scheff: New Facebook Group Page for Josie Lou Ratley – Teen Nearly Beaten to Death

Are you as shocked and horrified at the events that happened to 15 year-old Josie Ratley as many of us are? Isn’t it time this violence and bullying stopped?

Facebook has become one of the strongest social networking sites to help spread news, assist causes and bring people together with common interests.  Recently “Pray for Josie Lou Ratley” group was created.

This group has been established to foster coordination, donations and positive actions on behalf of Josie and her Family. Please join them as they band together to right this terrible wrong!

Take the time to leave your good wishes, prayers and support.

Get Well Cards can be sent to:

Broward General Medical Center
Patient Josie Lou Ratley
1600 S. Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

The Ratley family does not have health insurance to pay for Josie’s medical care.  You can donate at any Wachovia Bank branch or mail your donations to:

Wachovia Bank
2989 PGA Boulevard
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.

Please make checks payable to “The Josie Lou Ratley Fund“.

Every little bit helps and every pray is appreciated. 

Watch slideshow with new photo’s from her recent Facebook Group page. Read more.

Sue Scheff: Cybercrime TV to Present World Congress on School Cyber Threats

Cybercrime TV is inviting experts to address 600 policy makers at the International School Safety Convention in Denver, Colorado, April 22-23, 2010, as part of a special session on cyber threats faced by schools, students,teachers, and parents.

Washington, DC December 21, 2009 — Cybercrime TV ( ) is inviting experts to address 600 policy makers at the International School Safety Convention in Denver, Colorado, April 22-23, 2010, as part of a special session on cyber threats faced by schools, students, teachers, and parents.

The program chair for the session is Andy Purdy, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security cyber head, and founder of Cybercrime TV. High-definition television highlights of the proceedings will be distributed to media outlets worldwide. Cybercrime TV will also produce with participating speakers print materials and interactive presentations.

Purdy expects topics to include cyber security, cyber bullying, sexting, illegal file sharing, online predators, privacy issues, and potential threats to “middle-mile” broadband projects that connect schools to community responders.

Purdy is particularly interested in announcements about new initiatives that can impact legislation and national investment in securing schools.

Purdy’s invitation extends to book authors, filmmakers, documentary producers, researchers, lawmakers, community leaders, and technology developers.

Participants can use the website, Cybercrime.TV, to prepare for the convention and build a community of interest around their themes. The site offers registered members a variety of online tools for collaborating on video and multimedia presentations, as well as private workspaces for connecting with convention attendees.

The International School Safety Convention will take up 12 meeting spaces on the Denver campus of Johnson &Wales University College of Business. The 2-day event is being organized by international school safety leader Michael Dorn for the Denver-based groups, School Safety Partners ( ) and the Foundation for the Prevention of School Violence.

Attendees will be primarily high-level decision makers responsible for major school safety funding, business leaders interested in public-private partnerships, and members of the school construction community.

Within the convention, the main feature will be the innovative World Congress on School Safety, which will include Purdy’s session on school cyber threats. The fast pace of the agenda is designed to optimize group problemsolving.

Speakers will have a brief period of time in the Jared Polis Auditorium to present their views before a review panel and the general assembly, followed by questions and answers. They will then proceed to an adjoining conference room to continue their discussions with members of the media and other attendees.

In addition, speakers may take part in presentations covering all aspects of school safety prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery, scheduled in 2 more conference spaces.

The convention will be immediately followed by a 30-day television distribution window, during which broadcast video will be distributed to journalists, television news producers, and online and mobile news video providers at more than 25,000 news organizations on all continents.

Experts interested in participating in Purdy’s school cyber threats session are welcome to register at Cybercrime.TV and provide a brief profile.

 Also on Examiner.

Sue Scheff: Teen Brings a Gun to School with a Hit List

gun+close+upAfter last month’s horrific incident that nearly ended a 15-year old Michael Brewer’s  life, a 14-year old in Miami brings a gun to school while the teacher notices this student scribbling names on a paper.  What was it?  He remarked to the teacher he wanted to kill another student.  The police later found a handgun in his backpack.

Thankfully the teacher alerted authorities, she is an example of being proactive and definitely a teacher that needs to be commended for her immediate response. 

What is going on with teens today?  Why are they turning to criminal activity?

Criminal Activity and Your Teen
For many kids, adolescence is a trying phase of life. Body changes, school pressures, and personality changes can be very overwhelming to your teen when occurring all at once. Because of these pressures, adolescents can be more susceptible to things like peer pressure. Whether it’s out of a desire to fit in or stand out, your normally levelheaded teen can be easily pressured into committing dangerous and illegal acts they might never otherwise consider.

Sometimes, these activities are relatively harmless, and can include things like dying their hair a bold color, or cutting a class or two. But often, many teens find the desire to fit in so strong they are willing to compromise their own morals to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. They may be more likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol, or commit other criminal activities, all for the sake of ‘fitting in’.

Though there are many dangers your teen may encounter, this site deals specifically with teenagers and criminal activity, like shoplifting, vandalism, and violent crime. Teens can partake in these activities for many reasons- peer pressure being just one of a long list of possibilities.

References: NBC6 News, Parents Universal Resource Experts, Teen Criminal Activity Awareness, Teen and Youth Violence Prevention

Click here  to read more articles about Parenting Teens.

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