I’ve spent more than 30 years of my life helping to protect people. For 22 years, I served in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps, where I had a chance to protect heads of state, foreign dignitaries and major sporting events such as the annual Army-Navy football game.
After I retired from the Army, I spent six years as the executive director of security for Washington, D.C. Public Schools, helping to protect the district’s 163 campuses and more than 70,000 students. Now, I am public safety advisor for ADT Security Services, which helps to protect more than 15,000 schools and more than 1,300 college and university campuses.
During my travels throughout this country (and around the world) one remark I’ve heard often from parents is “It can’t happen here.” By that they mean the violence and crime that they often associate (many times falsely) with big cities. If you stop and think of the two worst campus-related tragedies in the U.S. – Virginia Tech and Columbine – they both took place in rural to suburban areas.
A New England school superintendent was recently quoted saying his job was educating students and not providing security. This came after he had to ask parents to help him raise money to replace computers and other valuable equipment that had been stolen. I hope that is the most serious breach of security this man ever faces.
My point is that we all have to face the fact that bad things can happen in good places. We need to be aware, be prepared and be organized to make our homes, schools and places of business unattractive to criminals.
As parents, our biggest job is keeping our kids safe and secure. We can’t be with them 24 hours a day, so we have to count on others to take that responsibility as seriously as we do. If they don’t, we need to individually and collectively make changes through meetings, petitions and the voting booth.
We can make a difference. I’ll be back soon with some ideas that we can all put into place to help our kids survive and thrive in their passage to adulthood.
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