The Key to Saving Lives During a School Attack

October 18, 2022

Imagine that you had a space in your school that if you could just get to it during a crisis it would nearly 100% protect you from physical harm. It’s not a perfect place because you would still suffer the experience of being in the crisis but physically, you would be protected.

The good news is that every school has lots of these spaces and we’re absolutely certain that they work because they have already proven their efficacy. The data is crystal clear and undeniable. In previous attacks these spaces have saved tens of thousands of lives. However, there’s one condition that must be satisfied to receive this type of awesome protection and that is that the door to these spaces must be closed and locked.

If you haven’t already guessed—this space is a classroom.

When I was an SRO many years ago, I didn’t appreciate the importance of the classroom door. Of course I knew it was important but I looked at all safety as being equally important, but I hadn’t yet learned to distinguish the critical from the excellent, the excellent from the good, and the good from the useful.

Now, decades later I can’t help but stare at the classroom door and focus so much of my energy on it. When I do school vulnerability assessments, I look at every single door and rate that door individually for its protective quality. It’s that important!

An excellent classroom door will have the following:

  1. Metal frame (if the door opens inwards the frame must be metal).
  2. Appropriate fire rated door.
  3. Sturdy, difficult to breach door (usually achieved by having an appropriate fire rated door).
  4. Small window with protective wire or a window that is high enough on the door to prevent someone from breaking the glass and reaching in to open the door. If it is not feasible to replace the glass with wired glass then cover it with protective tape.
  5. ADA compliant handle.

The classroom door is so critical that if you have limited funds and are not sure where to put your effort and resources—enhance your classroom doors! It is the key for preventing violence and saving lives during a school attack. To be more specific, locking the threat out of the classroom is the key. When you lock the threat out of the classroom you are saving those inside from direct contact with a murderer.

Immediately closing the classroom door (must already be locked) is even more important, initially, than the police response. School attackers are not looking for a fight, but victims. They don’t care about the police response, initially, because they’re trying to get into the classrooms. That is their top priority. So our priority must be to stop them from getting what they want. In many ways the first moments of a school attack is a fight for control of the classrooms.

We must control the classrooms!

It is so important that if I were given the opportunity to say one thing to every teacher in America after having spent nearly 30 years of preventing violence, knowing what I know, the thousands of teachers I’ve trained, and all the school I have visited that I would say the following…Please, I beg you, close and lock your classroom door.


If you'd like to discuss or schedule a Safe & Loved Enhanced school vulnerability assessment, email for more details.

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