Siouxland teachers learn about school safety - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxland teachers put through their paces and learn about school safety

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STORM LAKE, Iowa (KTIV) -

Schools have long been considered safe places.  However, the potential for violence has opened up a new reality for school districts across the country.

When Mona Schulte went into teaching three decades ago, she didn't expect she might have to protect her students from gunmen.

However, the Columbine and Sandy Hook school massacres have made that situation a possible reality for her and other teachers.

"That did not even come into the picture.  It was more about keeping the students safe from themselves," said Schulte.

"It never would have crossed my mind," said Storm Lake Middle School teacher, Dewey Hupke.

Tuesday, the classroom is just as much about keeping kids safe, as it is about learning.

"My biggest concern is being put in that situation and not knowing what to do or not having the tools to be able to protect my students," said Kaye Otto, a teacher at Storm Lake St. Mary's.

Former West Point professor and human aggression expert Dave Grossman says rural schools are the biggest targets.

"It is more likely to happen to them, because they're in a small town.  The vast majority of these crimes are happening in small towns where people are in denial," said Grossman.

Armed guards and police officers have become more common on college campuses.  Grossman believes that elementary schools will follow their lead.

"We have to deeply respect every school right to make their own decision.  We got to demand that they protect their kids, and the only thing that stops the killing is somebody there with a gun," pointed out Grossman.

Some teachers in Utah and Texas carry concealed weapons, and South Dakota is following suit.

"I love that concept.  I would be one of the first ones to volunteer," added Schulte.

For now, Schulte's arming herself with knowledge.  Grossman, a former West Point professor and expert in human aggression is sharing tactics with teachers and school leaders from across the region. 

"Once the man is inside your building you've got nothing but bad options," Grossman told his audience.

He says the school building itself is the first line of defense.

"The absolute, minimum due diligence is to control access to who comes in your school.  Keep the back doors locked.  Have a volunteer or someone at your school sign people in.  If somebody's walking the hallway that doesn't have a visitors badge, find out why," Grossman explained.

Grossman points to statistics that show if a child dies in school they are more likely to die in a school shooting then all other causes of death inside a school put together.

He added that cameras don't do a good job of preventing violence, they simply document it.

He said there are simple, straight forward solutions and low tech answers.

The last three school massacres involved a gunmen shooting the windows to get in. 

However, something as simple as a $20 piece of wire mesh between the panes or laminated window covering could have prevented those tragedies.  It won't stop someone from breaking the glass, but Grossman said it will stop them from getting in the building.

On Wednesday, July 31, 2013, from 9:00am until 5:00pm, Grossman will present the program "The Bullet Proof Mind: Mental Preparation for Combat" to law enforcement and military professionals from across the region.  Teachers who missed Tuesday's training are also welcome to attend.

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