Students discuss school security concerns

Student: 'You never know what might happen'
Students discuss school security concerns

Just over a week after the Parkland, Florida, shooting safety is top of mind for students.

“It probably scares everyone here but with the security that we have, I think we feel much safer,” Memorial High School junior Jordan Smith said.

Smith and fellow student Keyshawn Webster are confident in their school’s security measures, but know after a fight happened just this week on campus, requiring officers to get involved, incidents can escalate quickly.

“It’s always in the back of my head. You never know what might happen. One little fight could turn into a big brawl which could lead to guns and you never know,” Webster said.

This month, multiple fights between students and unfounded threats made on social media have happened at schools across the Madison Metropolitan School District, including a student who was arrested after bringing a loaded gun to La Follete High School this week.

Madison is not alone. Schools in Baraboo, Beloit, Waterloo, Orfordville and Verona have all investigated threats since the Florida shooting.

“When there was a big crowd, I would always try to see what’s going on just in case it was one of my friends. Now, if there is a big crowd, I try to find the nearest security guard or teacher just to make sure I’m safe,” Webster said.

Whether or not threats are credible, SSM Health psychologist Kathleen Hipke said the effects can cause students to have anxiety, restlessness or create trouble concentrating at school.

“It’s raising anxiety for the kids and teenagers and also families of really the question of, ‘Am I safe?'” she said.

Hipke suggests teachers and parents speak with students about how they are feeling and ways to make them feel safe.

“We don’t want any of our young people to be carrying around these fears and anxieties by themselves and feel stranded with them,” she said. “Get a sense of what their perceptions are. Make space for questions, correct misconceptions and again, when possible, bring that conversation back to what can you do to feel safer,” Hipke said.

It’s important to continue to check in with students and talk about how they are feeling on a regular basis, even if they don’t present signs of being anxious or worried about their safety.