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Metal Detectors: Justifying School Safety Essay

How much is your child’s safety worth? Are you willing to put a price tag on your child’s life? Many schools are putting a price tag, but fortunately several are not. A shocking one in ten students has carried a weapon to school in New York. Statistics like this cannot be music to the ears of parents. You have to wonder what schools are doing about this awful matter. A notion that has been around, yet a new idea is helping pave the future on student safety in schools. It is metal detectors. This new idea has caused controversy all over the world. Schools around the United States have turned to metal detectors for their solution. I feel that metal detectors are a small price to pay when this matter concerns children. Metal detectors are helpful and expensive. However, most schools are able to afford them, and they do not exploit students’ rights.

Metal detectors ensure school safety quickly and effectively. They help enforce a practice that is seen in many areas, including airports and courthouses. Many may argue that they consume too much time and require specially trained professionals. On the contrary, several schools have taken the same measures that are taken when conducting a poll. Polls only use a small percent of the population for the actual questions, but it still represents the entire population. Countless cities, including New York, have “…set a predetermined method of scanning which allows them to scan every second or third student instead of the entire student body” (McDermott 2). This measure is closely monitored, and it has proven to be successful. Some schools have even made things move quicker by having the teachers enter through a different entrance, which also includes metal detectors. Metal detectors in schools are also enforcing a method that is commonly used everywhere these days. A student from Chicago states in a message board that,

Government offices have metal detectors that everyone has to walk through before they enter. If I go to City Hall, I have to walk through a metal detector. If I go to court for a speeding ticket, I have to go through a metal detector. Why shouldn’t kids have to do the same in school? It’s a public place, funded by public dollars (much like government offices) and I don’t see that it violates anyone’s civil rights to have to walk through a metal detector to ensure that a school is safe.

Students lose many privileges when they enter the school doors because student safety is on the top of the list. If they do not want to be searched or questioned then they should not bring with them articles that are inappropriate for school.

Leigh was right when he said metal detectors are expensive. They can range from $4,495 to $5,495 for the walk-through models and from one hundred to four hundred dollars for the hand-held models. This minor setback causes debates. Metal detectors may not be needed in all grades of schools. “A vast majority of school homicides and suicides – 179 – took place in high schools…” when surveyed in New York. Therefore, various school districts may only need to install the metal detectors in high schools. Another aspect is that taxpayers already pay for insufficient funds. They should use the money for safer schools, instead of funding a new, state-of-the-art prison. Public officials need to look into where other tax dollars are going, and try and focus on getting it to go to schools.

Students go to school to be educated; if their education is impaired the school officials then need to step in. Students are also missing valuable time when public officials are required to search the entire school because of threats of a bomb or other life threatening incidents. ” ‘All the kids are missing out on their education…’ ” (Szaniszlo 1). This could have been prevented with the metal detectors. Although the threats are to be taken seriously, the officials would have a sense of relief with the metal detectors in place. Metal detectors are beneficial to everyone, and not just the students. For example, they enforce school policy and protect students. The school officials have a right to search with reasonable cause and this does not invade the students’ rights or privacy. The school officials are in loco parentis (in the place of the parent) to help maintain order in the school. Rules and regulations create a structure that is necessary to ensure a safe environment, ” . . . that will reinforce the District’s priority goal of safe schools for all students and staff” (Code of Conduct).

Just as students must obey the rules, school officials have a set of rules to follow. Also, parents are allowed to search their kids’ room without a search warrant mandatory, so school officials should be given the same standard. They are acting in loco parentis; therefore, like parents they do not need a search warrant. “The in loco parentis doctrine basically assumes that students have no legitimate expectation of privacy in their personal property, such as purses, gym bags, or clothing” (Persico 28). The school is now not only responsible for educating the children, but also for protecting them while in the school’s supervision. School officials “…were not permitted to begin a pat-down search until the scanning device had been activated twice…” (NYSSN). They are obligated to search when they feel the school environment has been threatened.

School officials only begin a thorough search when the detector has beeped twice on the same student. Only then are they allowed to search the specific area where it beeped. Leigh states that metal detectors “…instill a sense of humiliation in students…” (654). Students would not be embarrassed if the search was done in private. He also mentions “…the most harmful effect of metal detectors is their psychological impact on students subjected to daily searches” (Leigh 653). I have to agree that it might cause such impact, but that it is worth the price. When a student dies on school grounds it also causes a sense of fear for classmates. Schools only have these powers because they are out to ensure our safety. Schools will use whatever means possible to protect he student body.

The Columbine tragedy really awakened the American public. Who knew that two teenage boys would have access to guns and that they would intentionally use them to hurt others? Schools with the help of metal detectors would have a chance to prevent such incidents in the future. Metal detectors may not be a full-proof plan, but they would be valuable asset for schools. School districts are turning to this new phenomenon to better the school environment and community. Trying to work around the metal detectors idea or complaining about the cost are not the real issues. The students’ life is at stake. Nevertheless, to prevent the impossible from happening, adopting the idea of metal detectors is worth taking a chance.

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