When it comes to safety at SLA, we do things a bit differently here. Many Philadelphia public high schools use metal detectors to attempt to ensure that the students stay safe though SLA is built on trust- making sure that the kids are safe while letting them know that they aren’t expected to do anything harmful to another student.
Are we “privileged” or “deserving” enough to not have metal detectors? In some neighborhood schools, dangerous occurrences happen on a daily basis, while one might hear of it every couple years at SLA. This doesn’t mean that it couldn’t change, especially if the people that intend on doing harm to the school are aware of the lack of security.
What would be different if we had metal detectors? How would that make SLA students feel? Some students on our editorial board reported about attending schools with strict security policies, including metal detectors. They said it felt like being in a prison.
There is also the fact that students may live in unsafe neighborhoods. Some students have to bring items like pepper spray in their bags, not intending to use them as a weapon at school though having the weapon present can result in the student using it under overwhelming emotion.
This is on top of the fact that many people find it unsettling that anyone can walk through the front door without being greeted or stopped by security. Our office not being on the first floor makes managing the flow of people more complicated. Although there is a sign-in system at the front desk, it is not always used, and Officer Byrd does not always man the front door as she also has the responsibility of monitoring the other floors of the building — although we have also seen her turn people away from entry after talking to them.
We only have one school police officer in our budget whose primary job is to monitor, and isn’t meant to intervene in a threatening situation, but her badge represents an authority that’s still intimidating no matter what they are allowed to do.
Despite the anxieties that many people are expressing about safety at SLA, making it feel like a safer place doesn’t have to require a lot of work, and it doesn’t have to involve making SLA feel like a prison either. A few things that would make students feel more protected are:
- Signs or directions leading to the office.
- Having people check in when they enter the building. Whether or not there is a person staffing the front desk, there should be clear signage asking individuals to sign in.
- Having more discussions on what is considered a “weapon.” Students may not know that items such as mace or pepper spray count as weapons according to the district code of conduct.
- More security officers at the entrance.
Unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the student editorial board.