New data on school-related violence show this past school year was the deadliest in over a decade.
According to National School Safety and Security Services, there were 48 school-related violent deaths in the United States from August 2003 to June 2004. That number is more than the past two years' statistics combined. Ken Trump, director of the Cleveland, Ohio-based firm, says there is no single cause for the recent spike in violence. However, he warns that the climate is right for continued escalation.
Trump is one of the nation's leading experts on K-12 school security and crisis preparedness issues, school security assessments, and school safety consulting. When asked to explain the current upward trend in school violence, he cites “school safety budget cuts” and “enormous pressure on school administrators to improve test scores, which has pushed other issues such as school safety to the back burner,” as just a couple of possible factors.
But another serious problem Trump points out is what he calls “a degree of human complacency.” He contends that time and distance from tragic events can breed a lack of vigilance. “It's the old denial,” the campus security consultant says, “and the farther we are from high-profile incidents like Columbine, the more we develop a 'been there, done that' mentality or think that it can't happen here.”
And that mentality very often shows up on education funding spreadsheets. Trump notes that ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, school safety has been given low priority.
“It absolutely makes no sense to me why,” he says, “at a time when we're increasing funding to protect bridges, monuments, and the hallways of Capitol Hill, our legislators and education officials at the federal level are cutting back funding to protect our children and our teachers, which are our most valuable resources.”
Nevertheless, the school safety expert says that is what is happening. Unfortunately local school safety budgets are being cut, state funding is being pulled back, and even the federal government has reduced school emergency planning funding.
Trump laments that last year only 25 percent of the applications to the U.S. Department of Education for school emergency planning funding were subsidized. And this year, he says, the total of federal funding for such emergency planning is $10 million less than the previous year's amount.
With more than 20 years' experience in school security consulting, Trump is one of the nation's most widely-quoted professionals in this area. He been been featured as a school safety and crisis expert on ABC's World News Tonight and Nightline programs, CBS's This Morning, Fox News, Good Morning America, and NBC Nightly News, as well as several national and international print, radio, and television media.
(This article courtesy of Agape Press).