Run, hide, defend?

Recently, there have been multiple violent threats made to Branham High School through social media, raising questions about campus safety. Luckily, friends of the Branham community reported these posts to administration.
The students that reported the threats tend to get attacked by the original posters and their group of friends, causing administration to worry that eventually these posts stop being reported and someone will actually attack the school.
Although students have been defending themselves by saying these are only jokes, it is important to know that this is not a laughing matter.
Dean Rick Hayashi said, “I feel that kids are a little distant and they feel that if it’s not a face-to-face conversation, they feel more bold to do something and think it’s anonymous… Colleges get information about a student and see the student’s online behavior and they get rejected.”
Mr. Hayashi added that when a student posts something inappropriate online, it can damage relationships at school and make people feel unsafe. It’s important to know that what you post will affect the Branham community.
Mr. Hayashi adds, “…we do restorative justice where we want students to fix that relationship they broke when they decided to do something immature like that.”
A similar situation happened in a World History class, on February 14 when a student wrote in the textbook that he or she was going to “shoot up” the school. Administration pulled the boys from the classroom in attempts to find the person who wrote the threat. A physically written threat (writing on walls, desks, in books, and graffiti) like this is dealt with in the same way as online threats.
One of the students pulled in for further questioning, sophomore Derek Hogan, said, “[The admin] told everyone to get a piece of paper out like homework or classwork and compared the handwriting [to the note]. If you were suspicious then they took your backpack and compared more work.”
Mr. Hayashi said, “In situations where we want to see if the threat is credible, we have to identify the person who was making those threats and once we do that, we have a discussion with the police and have a police intervention.”
According to Mr. Hayashi, students can be expelled as punishment for these kind of actions. Students over 18 could be tried as an adult and imprisoned.
Emergencies such as shootings, fires, and earthquakes aren’t anticipated, but they may happen, even at schools that are considered a safe haven.
Resource Officer Mike Carlton said, “It’s just like an earthquake drill or a fire drill, it’s very unlikely that these events will occur, but if they do they are going to be life threatening and very serious.”
The procedures to keep students safe have evolved as the school learns from previous events. Understanding what these procedures mean could save your life in a dangerous situation.
In the event that an attacker has entered the campus, Officer Carlton said, “They will put the school on lock-down and the run, hide, defend concept is that once the school is on lock-down, you’re running to your class or running off of campus.”
The first thing you should do in an emergency (like a shooting) is to run away, but only if you are far enough away from the danger to get off-campus safely. Ideally, students would gather in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center, or another location further away if needed to keep students safe, according to Principal Cheryl Lawton.
She added that at Hillsdale High School in 2009, a threat was made from a student who had carried bombs onto the campus. Because the school had practiced these procedures, students were safely hiding in classrooms and no student was injured.
“It’s unlikely that you want to take somebody on, you just want to get away from the threat,” said Officer Carlton.
If you are unable to run away, the second thing you should do is hide in a classroom, making sure that if the attacker were to look through a window, you wouldn’t be seen. In addition to locking the door, it is important to barricade the door to make it as difficult as possible for the attacker to get through.
As far as the barricade, Officer Carlton also says that the best barricade is one that makes it as hard as possible for the threat to get in so he or she will move on to a different classroom.
Officer Carlton says, “It’s just like home break-ins, people are going to go to the easiest way to get in. Anything heavy you can have in front of the doorway so that the person can’t push the door open or if the door opens and there’s a bunch of stuff in the way it’s likely they will move on to another classroom. Just do your best to make your class the least accessible so when the door gets opened up it looks barricaded.”
Math teacher Meredith Allen said of her classroom’s barricade plan, “First I make sure I lock the door, then we stack two bookshelves up with their back to the door first so it’s like a solid wall. Then we wedge file cabinets behind that. We then make a desk wall in the classroom to make a last barricade against the kids who are in the corner to avoid the fatal funnel.”
If the attacker does get through the door, you’ll need to enact stage three: find anything you can to defend yourself. Some suggestions for a makeshift weapon would be fire extinguisher, a rock, a heavy textbook, or a sharp object such as a pair of scissors, pencil, or ruler.
Despite the concern among students that these drills will cut into tutorial/homework time, administration sees no problem with kids finishing their work as long as students are remaining quiet.
Administration will be presenting curriculum to attempt to show students how it is important to be aware of your digital footprint online as well as how what you post online may affect relationships.