The recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has devastated the country and brought the same questions to the mind of every mother, father and student: how safe are our schools? What can we do to make sure this never happens again?
School administrators around the country have been trying to devise ways to make their schools and communities safer. Many of these suggestions have been controversial with the general public, with students looking to pressure politicians into changing current governmental policy on guns through walkouts and protests.
But one relatively simple suggestion to aid in protecting students has been bounced at schools everywhere in recent days: Should students be required to wear school-issued identification cards on a lanyard at campus?
Usually, accessories that one may carry are of some importance – shoes, glasses or watches – but only a few can truly be considered lifesaving – phones, pepper spray and… school-designated student identification cards.
“I think it is our responsibility, as a school, to take the proper precautions to ensure that a tragedy like the one that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas will not be repeated,” senior Gaby Sumpkin said.
However, there is one seemingly insignificant, but not wholly unimpactful, change that schools can make now – enacting a policy that mandates that all students wear their student identification cards around their necks at all times while on campus.
“Implementing an ID system will increase safety on campus and make sure that all students are accounted for.”
“Implementing an ID system will increase safety on campus and make sure that all students are accounted for,” senior Stav Sharoni said.
Most Cooper students matriculate from Pioneer Middle School, where wearing identification around the neck is standard practice, so much so, that students would often be heavily reprimanded for not wearing it. The benefits of such a system are as follows: the school is able to easily identify students in a crisis and if an unidentified person is on campus, they can be quickly removed before inciting any type of violence or committing a criminal act.
“I think that in a school this large there is no way to distinguish between students and outsiders should one be among the student body,” Sharoni said. “That’s why it is imperative to have a functional identification system.”
In the event of a shooter on campus, the ID system will admittedly do little to stop them once their desired task has begun. However, in the event of someone wanting to blend in with students in order to strike at the most detrimental time – vigilant students, teachers and faculty could go along way in minimizing the impact by revealing the nature of the situation sooner.
Furthermore, this implementation is not designed to necessarily prevent a massacre – its chief purpose is to keep the campus safe in a number of aforementioned situations. To expand, those incidents could include, but are not limited to, kidnappings, theft and general non-lethal harm to students and faculty.
And while some students may carry their IDs with them, not all do. Therefore, implementing the policy of wearing the item around the neck will force students to at least always have some type of identification with them in any unsavory situation.
The National Honor Society (NHS) has created a petition for the integration of this standard into everyday protocol. Students interested in implementing a strict ID policy can sign a form which will be given to administration.
Conclusively, whether or not the policy offers “real” protection is hardly something to be argued, but since it is, we should focus on the fact that a bothersome lanyard isn’t a large price to pay for even a small addition to the piece of mind of the students of CCHS.
Most can agree that some sort of gun control legislation is the best way to prevent school shootings. However, with the amount of work and time that is going to have to be put into making that happen, many are looking for a more immediate solution to keep our students safe. A variety of ideas have been suggested and fought for, such as metal detectors, large fences and bag checks. With the fear of school becoming like a prison, students at CCHS have been petitioning for a fix that may bring us all more security while still protecting our civil liberties: requiring each student to wear their school ID on their person at all times.
The idea is that if all students wear their schools IDs, administration and security will have an easier time identifying who doesn’t belong on campus, thus being able to identify an attacker faster. While this idea is good in theory, the reality is that it is an act of “security theatre.” Security theatre is a phrase to describe any practice of investing time and money into countermeasures that are meant to provide a feeling of safety, while having no means of actually achieving this safety.
Security theatre is a phrase to describe any practice of investing time and money into countermeasures that are meant to provide a feeling of safety, while having no means of actually achieving this safety.
With a school as big as CCHS, it is impractical that security and administration will be able to know if each and every student is wearing their correct student ID. When searching for someone who doesn’t belong, checking every student’s ID is not the most effective way to do this. In reality, a large portion of students will forget to wear their IDs or refuse to comply with the rule. If there is no way to guarantee that each student will wear their ID every day, and no way to make sure that the rule is being followed by everyone at any given moment, the purpose is null. The truth is that a stranger could walk the halls of the school with no ID and most likely never be stopped.
It is also very easy for an intruder to fake having a CCHS school ID. A student would simply have to hand their ID over to the attacker in order for them to have the appearance of belonging. A lanyard with any white card, a piece of paper attached to a lanyard, or even an empty lanyard could give the illusion that the intruder is wearing an ID.
Finally, the most compelling reason for why enforcing school IDs is a waste of time and effort is that these types of tragedies simply happen too fast. If an intruder with the intention to harm students gets onto the campus, there will be no time to check if they have a school ID or not before harm is done. Along with this, violence in schools is often perpetrated by the students themselves who would have perfectly valid school IDs.
While the idea that school IDs could keep us safe is comforting, it’s just not practical. Hopefully, through policy, collaboration and change, our community can come up with a way that can effectively keep our schools safe and secure as soon as possible in order to prevent a tragedy like the Parkland shooting from ever happening again.
Photo by Sarah Khan