Anna Lumpkin, regional school safety coordinator for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, said the Sandy Hook school
shootings are forever ingrained in minds across the world, but acts of violence are unpredictable, regardless of any amount of preparation.
These incidents have “happened before, and they’re going to happen again,” she said. “And most often, we’ve planned for what’s just occurred.”
Lumpkin said, currently, schools across the state are likely looking at their weather emergency drill strategies, after a tornado tore through Adairsville on Wednesday.
“What we must remember is that we have to prepare for an all-hazards approach,” she said. “We have to be worried about those bomb threats, we have to be worried about those medical emergencies, … and your school does have a plan.”
Lumpkin said people should be prepared to wait some time for new facts in regards to the Sandy Hook massacre.
“This will be a long-term investigation,” she said.
Lumpkin also said that, while many attribute school shooting to bullying issues, school shooters aren’t always going to be the ones that were bullied. However, bullying prevention in schools is important.
She also encouraged parents to update their student’s records if a parent contact number changes, in order for the school to be able to contact them in case they’re needed.
“When things occur at our schools, we have to make sure we’re getting that information from a credible source,” she said, adding that impulsive Facebook posting or Tweeting or the like can cause misinformation and unnecessary panic.
“These are things that nobody thinks are ever going to happen here,” said Lumpkin. “It happens everywhere. It’s not just Georgia, it’s not just high schools, it’s not just elementary schools. So don’t get that false sense of security. In the last couple of years, most people are becoming more aware that it can happen anywhere.”
Jerry Jennings, a Berry College professor and licensed psychologist, said that, from a mental health standpoint, counseling services, bullying prevention strategies and crisis interventions are being exercised actively at Floyd County Schools. He also said when he’s asked students if they felt safe in their school environments, the answer was unanimously yes.
However, Jennings stressed that arming teachers and increasing school security to the maximum level so that parents felt better about their children’s safety would spark fear and anxiety in the students.
“We’ve got to find a balance,” he said. “We don’t want to have too little going on, so we have lock downs and visitors check in at schools … but on the other hand, we could go too far. We could make our schools kind of like a prison where there is very limited access where there’s fences around our schools … kids will feel less safe at our schools.”
Scotty Hancock, director of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, said a school system-wide test of the communication radio emergency buttons worked exceptionally well on Thursday and emphasized that the radios would be tested about every month to ensure they work in case of any crisis.
“We’ve done school shooting scenarios since the 1990s,” he said. “I feel like, as a community, we’ve been preparing for this. This isn’t anything new to us. You don’t see us sitting back on our hands waiting for something to happen. We’re out there identifying problems and fixing them before they happen.”