There’s no sure way to put a cost on a human life, yet we attempt to put a price to it almost daily; whether determining the extent of medical treatment; engineering vehicles we drive; or taking steps to thwart the actions of a sick man like the one who mowed down 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook School.
At some point we question that, while extra treatments and medication may lengthen a life, whether what is gained in time is offset by what is lost of quality of life. Cost enters this discussion, too.
Cost is often the driver in motor vehicle engineering. Safety is a valid marketing consideration, but there’s a point where we’re prepared to take the risk even as we know the possible consequences. Otherwise, we would all be driving tanks.
The same can be asked of the safety of our children.
In response to the Newtown massacre, the National Rifle Association CEO, Wayne LaPierre, suggested all schools should have armed guards. At least one community in Arizona has followed his advice and armed parents, on a volunteer basis, to watch over schools.
Here, the response has been more tempered. Police Chief Col. Stephen McCartney, Mayor Scott Avedisian and acting School Superintendent Richard D’Agostino don’t favor armed school guards, whether they are members of the Warwick Police Department or contracted security personnel.
D’Agostino implemented a policy of locking elementary school doors and has been reviewing security at secondary schools. This is a reasoned approach, and one within the existing capabilities and resources of the department.
Will it stop a Newtown tragedy?
There’s no way of knowing, although, as those who want more security will point out, the doors at Sandy Hook were locked. An armed guard would have probably made the difference in that case. That said, we agree with Pilgrim Principal Marie Cote that, regardless of all the measures that can be taken, someone who is determined will find a way to do it.
In weighing the options, we need not only consider child safety and security, but also the environment we are creating. Schools need to be safe places, not forts. Vigilance is a part of the equation. We all need to be sensitive to what is happening around us and how it impacts us. Good drivers do that all the time. But, do we seriously want to drive tanks to make us safer on our highways? Do we seriously want our kids attending armored schools? That’s not a direction for our schools.