One Pennsylvania school district’s decision to arm teachers with baseball bats evokes the image of teachers roaming up and down the halls, wood bats on their shoulders, ready to take on any potential intruders. That is not quite the case. The district purchased $1800 worth of 16-inch bats, about half the size of standard major league issue baseball bats. These smaller bats are kept locked up in the classrooms, ready to be used as a last resort in case of an active shooter in the school.
Is the Best Defense Really a Good Offense?
Vince Lombardi’s much quoted statement that “the best defense is a good offense” applies to the theory being utilized in Pennsylvania. Lombardi was not advocating for his quarterback and wide receivers to take the field instead of his linebackers, nor is the school district asking teachers to become vigilantes and hunt down intruders. Rather, Lombardi wanted his offense to keep the other team’s offense off the field for as long as possible, and for his defense to be aggressive when it was on the field.
In the same way, school districts must take every measure to keep intruders off school property, but then act aggressively to defend students when an emergency does occur. This recently happened in Florida when a brave teacher engaged a school shooter in conversation until the school resource officer, responding quickly, arrived and arrested the intruder.
Risk Management for Schools and Organizations
All organizations, including schools, public entities, and private businesses, have a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for those invited on their premises. Planning for emergencies is just the start of a comprehensive risk management program. Organizations must manage their resources to avoid unnecessary claim costs, which can include potential lawsuits, legal fees, medical and therapy expenses, and building repairs.
Staff must be trained for dealing with emergencies, employee handbooks should be crafted to clarify the proper hiring and employment practices, and insurance protection must be reviewed. Taking the time to focus on proactive measures, organizations can increase safety and save costs.
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