EDITORIAL: Preparing for the beast

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY DON RATZLAFF
We don?t buy into the-world?s-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket banner that many observers of today?s world wave from the rooftops. But we will admit our world is a different, and in many ways more challenging, place to live than it was 10 to 20 years ago.

Last Thursday, students at Hillsboro Elementary School participated in a lock-down drill. You?re forgiven if you have no idea what that means. In brief, a lock down is a predetermined strategy for sealing off classrooms in an effort to protect students from threats ranging from an armed intruder to a chemical or gas leak.

This drill was an outgrowth of the school?s larger ?Crisis Management Plan? currently under review. The plan is an attempt to prepare students, teachers and administrators for any reasonable emergency that could arise over the course of a school year.

When we were in school, we prepared ourselves for possible ?natural? hazards such as fires and tornados. Today we prepare our kids for the possibility of armed intruders.

Lest we think such preparation in a small-town school system is mostly an overreaction to last year?s tragedy in Columbine, consider last week?s bomb scare in our neighboring community of Peabody. Yes, it turned out to be a false alarm. But it was one more unsettling reminder that small towns have no guarantee of safety anymore?if they ever did. It takes only one alienated child, one attention-hungry young person, one deluded adult to shatter our blissful innocence forever.

Yes, we wonder if the national media?s obsessive reporting of school-related tragedies doesn?t feed the imagination of disturbed persons, young and old alike, with glimpses of perverted ?glory.? We hope preparing for such eventualities with lock-down drills doesn?t unintentionally feed deep-seated fears in our children. But we agree it is better to be prepared?to face the beast of violence with a plan to protect ourselves and our loved ones?than to be caught unaware.

In the meantime, we work harder to strengthen the inner spirit of our children with assurances of our love, of their value, and of the possibility of living with grace and courage in an unpredictable world.

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