In order to protect our children in schools, we might have to rethink our strategy. Nathan Tompkins imagines some options.
On 20 April, 1999, I was sitting at the bar in the Wet Dog Café in downtown Astoria, drinking beer whiskey and rum with a shell-shocked teacher I knew. He told me he was thinking about retiring at the end of the year. I asked him why. He just pointed at the small TV hanging over the corner of the bar where CNN was replaying, for what had to be the thousandth time, the events of the day. Then, I listened to the horror vibrating in his whispered words: “Trench Coat Mafia.”
We never forget the Sandy Hooks and Littletons. We create a veil of infamy for the Brenda Spencers and Charles Whitmans; they fascinate us, they horrify us. It does something to us when we turn on the news and find that children and teachers were shot, murdered in their learning sanctuary, because some deranged teenager (or adult) woke up that morning and decided they didn’t like Mondays. It exposes the social disease in our own society.
Francine Wheeler, mother of Ben Wheeler who was murdered at Sandy Hook, asked politicians for common sense in dealing with firearm legislation. She has proposed that assault weapons be banned. I state that caving such emotional pleas will do nothing to protect children from mass murderers such as Adam Lanza.
There is an alternative I find more appealing: armed guards. The idea of uniformed men and women patrolling the halls of our public schools in SWAT-styled uniforms and body armor, wielding M-16s, CS gas, handguns, and batons is a rather intriguing thought. It is an idea that has a lot of merit, but in my opinion it does not go nearly far enough.
In addition to the armed guards, my ideal school layout would have an inner barrier which would just be a standard chain link fence 20 feet high and topped with razor wire. The outer barrier is an electrified fence about 16 feet high also topped with razor wire. Between the two would be a 30 foot wide no man’s land randomly lined with landmines. This is to prevent any unauthorized entry from the outside world and more importantly to keep the inmates … er … schoolchildren from escaping to play that infamous game of hooky. We all know what trouble they can get up to when they’re not in school.
Furthermore, the students should be forced to tear down their playground and use the space to build their own barracks where they will live throughout the school year. It is in these barracks they will sleep, eat, and do their homework. Each night before bedtime and the same each morning, they will do a countdown for attendance. This is to ensure that no one escaped and that all students are accounted for.
They will get one hour of outside time a day and on weekends they will do chores like digging and refilling holes, mowing the grass, weeding, gardening, washing uniforms, and so on.
During the school day, they will be escorted by the guards to and from classes and if they need to use the restroom when school is in session they will need to get special permission from the instructor and a guard will search them for contraband and then march them to the bathroom. Once the student finishes their business, the guard will search them again before allowing them back into the classroom. If they follow the rules, they will receive an hour’s visitation from their loved ones a month. However, this visitation is a privilege and can be revoked at any time.
Now, we all know that kids are prone to rebel against authority from time to time and trouble ensues. I know how it works. I, myself, spent many hours in the principal’s office as a kid. Minor infractions such as late homework, talking with their classmates, speaking without raising their hand, low scores on assignments, and so on will be met swiftly with a spanking administered by the teacher. Students with more major infractions like giving the finger to the authority figures, fighting, cursing, and planning to escape will be sent to live in a dark hole alone for a time span to be determined by the principal. Students who fail their classes at the end of the year will be executed.
Finally, at the end of the year, the remaining students will be allowed to go home to visit their loved ones for the summer holidays until the first Tuesday after Labor Day. Then, they will be rounded up by National Guardsmen and forced to return to school until the following June.
It is highly important that our students are made safe from crazy people trying to shoot them. As the cliché goes, they are our future and must be protected at all costs, so armed guards and concentration camp style schools are essential for their safety.
Or maybe, just maybe, we should locate the virus in our society and heal this sickness rather than putting an undersized Band-Aid over the symptom.