Mater Dei Strives for Student Safety

Amara Rivera, Staff Writer

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Just forty-five days into 2018, there have been eighteen school shootings in the United States along with thirty mass shooting incidents.

Most recently on Valentine’s Day, a school shooting in Parkland, Florida took the lives of seventeen people in a disarry of bullets. And affected millions throughout the nation.

As the statistics of school shootings continue to increase, Americans have taken notice.

Since 2013, there have been over two-hundred school shootings, averaging one a week throughout the United States. Each year the number of school shootings has increased. From 1991-2013, there were only fifty-five school shootings in America, but in the past four years it’s tripled.

No other country in the world has had more school shootings during the same four-year time period. According to Harvard Politics, even countries like Yemen and Thailand, which have laxer gun control laws and higher gun capitas, only had three school shootings since 2013.

The Psych Law Journal stating that the chances of a high school shooting taking place in a U.S high school any given year is 1 in 21,000. While these odds suggest being in a school shooting is unlikely, these events in America are at the highest they’ve ever been.

There is a divide in America on how to handle the sky-rocketing statistics. While some Americans believe in gun control, others believe that it is American culture that carries the stigma of guns and violence.

With all the controversy surrounding guns, do students feel safe at Mater Dei?

Karl Moreno, a junior at Mater Dei, says “I’m not scared to come to school because this is a small school. Pretty much everyone knows eachother and everyone has a friend. You can talk to anyone.” Many schools have encouraged students to reach out and spread kindness to help keep the school environment positive.

Moreno is with the majority of Crusaders, in not being afraid to come to school. Although, after a recent lockdown during lunch, some students are skeptical of the lockdown procedure at Mater Dei.

October 25th, just shy of two weeks after a schoolwide Emergency Preparedness Drill, Crusaders were called to a lockdown during lunch. According to an e-mail from Mater Dei sent to parents and guardians, The Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) instructed Mater Dei to go to a lockdown, due to a possible ‘active shooter.’ It was a domestic dispute in a home, approximately one mile away from campus.” The e-mail went on to explain the lockdown lasted about ten minutes, that students were not in danger and the CVPD apprehended the subject.

While lockdown drills have been practiced, no nearby school (including Mater Dei) had ever held a lockdown during lunch. Which is why the e-mail ends applauding everyone on campus for, “their quick and appropriate action!”

Yet, David Monjaraz, a junior, commented on how he felt during the lockdown procedure “They [said] go to a class and wait there until it’s clear but it doesn’t seem like a good idea. If a shooter is on campus and I hear gunshots, I’m running. A shooter can easily get into a classroom or the resource room. I don’t feel that would work. Plus, the lockdown procedure only works if we are in the classrooms. If we were at lunch, everyone is going to run to any classroom that is closest to them. No one will care if they’re in the right class.”

 

Since the lunchtime lockdown faculty has received ALICE training. The ALICE Training Institute is the first program in the country to use option-based, proactive, survival strategies to prepare for active shooter events, according to their website. In other words, teachers are learning more than just lockdown as an option which is helpful. The Chula Vista Police also came to a staff meeting to help better prepare faculty.

 

Mr. Brunner, Dean of students, says “Administration is going to many meetings to upgrade our emergency preparedness plan. The new plan is based on federal and state guidelines since many procedures have changed in the last few years. Be assured that this new plan will secure our campus if there is an eventuality of any type of emergency. Active shooter, biological, or outside situations.”

Brunner also assured students that Mater Dei is doing everything in its power to make sure it’s students are protected.

As important as faculty preparedness and administrative policies are another concern during the lockdown procedure is the behavior of students and teachers. Eric Trus, a sophomore, said “I wouldn’t feel safe if there was actual danger because there were kids playing music, snap chatting, live streaming it via Instagram through the whole incident. The faculty did what they were supposed to do. But the only thing that was really bad, was the kids. They were not following the procedures of the lockdown properly and instead put themselves and others in danger.”

Overall, students seem to think Mater Dei is a safe place, faculty are trained should the worst occur and students may want to remember that the policies are in place to keep them safe.

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