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Faith In School Safety Shaken After Newtown Tragedy

Fox Point and Bayside parents say they feel local schools are safe, but none are impenetrable after reports that a shooter killed more than 20 people, including kids, at an elementary school in Newtown, CT Friday.

A 24-year-old man went on a shooting rampage ending  and another at a nearby home. Now, people across the country are asking, "What if that happened here?"

Rachel Ropel Herrenbrook, of Fox Point, has a seventh-grader at Bayside Middle School and two others at Nicolet High School. 

"I've been thinking about that all day," she said. "I've never been worried about my kids' safety at school, but given today's circumstances, no school is safe enough."

Brian Mayer of Glendale has four children ages 6, 11, 13 and 19. He said having a first-grader made this really hit home for him. 

"I think they are as safe as any school can be," Mayer said. "I bet the Newtown parents thought their school was safe, too, though. We can take all the precautions in the world, but the fact is, we’re only as safe as we think we are. The world is an unsafe place. Having a first grader, this really hit home."

Susan Nolte of Bayside said she feels schools are safe, but days like today can really shake one's confidence. 

"Our schools have felt safe and secure to me especially since I grew up in a time when schools were not locked and people seemed to come and go freely," Nolte said. "However, after a tragedy like the one that occurred today I feel like I have a false sense of security because all public places, not just schools, are vulnerable to this type of senseless violence. This is a societal problem that needs to be addressed on a larger scale so that our children can be safe in their schools and their communities."

Carol Rode-Curley has a daughter who is 16 and a son who's 13. She said she believes the schools are doing their best, but no school is totally safe anymore. 

"I believe Bayside Middle School and Nicolet High School are doing the best job that they can to be safe. I don't believe in absolute security anymore. I wish I could. I wish I had more faith in people but with all of the senseless acts of violence that happen all too often in this country my sense of security is false. I want to believe our schools are safe, I want to believe our neighborhoods are safe. I just don't know anymore."

Bayside Police Chief Bruce Resnick said that every department trains for things like this, but even with training, these situations are never easy. 

"We all train for these types of incidents. That being said, these types of incidents are difficult under any circumstances and tend to be chaotic at best," Resnick said. "We don’t share specific strategies for obvious reasons, but the North Shore agencies would work collectively to ensure the best possible outcome." 

Representatives from Nicolet High School and Fox Point-Bayside School District did not respond to requests for information Friday afternoon.

Reactions elsewhere

As President Barack Obama addressed the nation Friday afternoon, he bowed his head and told the world that his first reaction was not as a President, but as a parent. 

He had spoken to Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy and said the federal government would "offer every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families."

In his remarks, Obama also referenced the August mass shooting at an temple in Oak Creek when he said:

"As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.  And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."

Wisconsin State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers offered his condolences and support to Newtown as community members deal with the tragedy.

“These will be difficult times for parents and school children everywhere, including in Wisconsin," he said. "We must support and care for our children as they hear about this tragedy and try to understand that which is incomprehensible and senseless.”

Dave Koven December 15, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Sadly, as long as we have mental illness, we will have tragic events of this type in one place or another. We need to call upon the NRA (National Rifle Association), long an advocate for gun ownership, to help us. They won the concealed carry debate, one of their major concerns has been solved. They have a huge membership bloc that pays dues and votes. Maybe they could now use some of their money and influence to help the mentally ill? This would be a very good step they could take to help their country and gain some positive public relations rewards as well. Not only might they help prevent these tragic mass shootings, but they'd also be helping a very underserved population in this country.

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