Post-Traumatic Stupidity Syndrome: “For Safety, Do Not Hold the Door Open for the Parent Behind You at Drop-Off”

Readers — This is PRECISELY and I mean PRECISELY what I feared might happen, post Sandy. First of all, there is the way we are almost ENCOURAGED to believe that if some children are hurt, somewhere, sometime, now all children are in danger, everywhere, all the time. Second, there is the ease with which some folks in power are  ready to exchange age-old humanity for the  inhumanity of pseudo-safety. And finally: Ugh. Who wants to show up anyplace where the door is slammed in your face as if you are a psychopath till proven otherwise…by your access code? – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: We just got a Sandy Hook email from my daughter’s daycare the key part telling us:

One of the biggest concerns at this center (as stated by a parent) is, “how often parents ‘piggy back’ on the parent in front of them when coming in, thus bypassing the need to enter the security code”.

Please understand that in an effort to safeguard our children, no adult (parent or staff member) will hold the door for others. Each person must either use their access code or ring the bell to be admitted by a member of our staff. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but the children’s safety is our greatest priority.”

Part of me wants to keep my daughter home now.

I have spent hours trying to concisely and clearly explain my dismay.  The redacted result I am about to send is as follows:

To the Director, Assistant Director and all the staff:

I am deeply saddened to see this letter.  While safety is important, this reaction (to a highly unlikely threat) does more harm than good.  It works against the educational goals at the center. Our greatest safety, comfort, resilience and foundation for growth come from community — community built and strengthened by our knowledge of one another, and our consistent willingness to care for and help one another. Community  is one of the main things I have loved about sending my daughter to your center.

Minor as the act of holding a door open for a parent right behind you (especially one with a baby in an infant carrier) may seem, it is a moment to care or be cared for.  It eases the hassles of parenthood and makes us feel welcome and connected.  Sometimes it starts us talking.  At the very least it gets us to take a good look at one another, allowing us to recognize which parents belong with which children.  It sets us up to be an extra set of eyes to protect those children.

To ask me to slam the door in the face of a parent I recognize breaks down that community.  And to what end?  The shooter at Sandy Hook faced a similar security system. He was not let in, he shot his way in.  Moreover, even when protecting military secrets I am not asked to shut the door on someone I know belongs in there.  I don’t believe [my daughter] knows about Sandy Hook.  But she will notice when doors start slamming in our face.  I don’t want her to build a distrust for familiar people, the very people she would do well to seek in an emergency.

Of course the door isn’t the only place people connect.  I get a sense of community when a teacher stops me on my way to the classroom to tell me what [my daughter] did on the playground.  It lets me know that even the teachers working upstairs know I am her mother. But now these instructions say these same teachers should close the door on me, on my daughter, and on other parents.  Why?

I am all too aware that life is fragile and has no guarantee. So, more than I want maximum security, I want my daughter to have community, connection, love, and joy all her life. –  Hawa

Stand back, you potential terrorist!

66 Responses to Post-Traumatic Stupidity Syndrome: “For Safety, Do Not Hold the Door Open for the Parent Behind You at Drop-Off”

  1. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings December 20, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    AMEN!! My husband works at a nuclear facility and even THEY don’t slam doors like that so each individual worker can “card in”! Good grief!

  2. Silver Fang December 20, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    It never fails. Tragedies bring out the stupid in people.

  3. Beth December 20, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    I’m a preschool director in a church building in a very busy city location. The church does a lot of outreach to different parts of the community. For quite a long time we have made it clear we do not want our parents holding the door open for anyone they don’t recognize. Inevitably somebody does it anyway and we find people bathing in a bathroom sink if they get in without staff knowing. Recognition-that’s the key difference. Not holding the door open for parents you know is just silly–not sure why this particular center made that distinction. I do know that a lot of attendance software nowadays (state requires attendance records to be turned in in our case) is often tied to the key pad entry, although not sure if that’s the case here–so piggybacking would be problematic for that reason too. Access codes are a way to record who was and who was not in the building at any given time. We don’t do it–but a lot of schools and other places of work track entry and exit that way.

  4. Leslie December 20, 2012 at 8:01 am #
  5. Leslie December 20, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    *sigh* Way to build community.

  6. curiositykt December 20, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    They do this at my office, which has very little security concerns. We aren’t even allowed to hold the door open for people we know and recognize because they might have been fired and we might not know.. Which is always hilarious when a bunch of us go to lunch together and come back upstairs and have to go through the door one at a time.

  7. Naomimat December 20, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    I’m fairly sure that this has been the daycare standard for years. Use your own access to the center and don’t hold the door open for anyone. Unfortunately, they are choosing to finally adhere to the rules when the whole world is watching.

  8. Lyndsay December 20, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    We have been given the same stern reminder at our daycare. However, they do have the added point that our entry system is also the sign in, so a child whose parents don’t key into the building will not be signed in or out for that day. That said, I have two children and the younger one is the youngest at the center at the moment. Plenty of parents have held the door for me *after* I put the code in to sign my kids in, I’m pretty sure that’s still okay. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the one to point it out to everyone, but a determined maniac with a gun will simply shoot his way through the glass front doors and bypass the whole security system.

  9. Warren December 20, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Do yourself a favour, get all the parents together and do the following.
    Everytime you show up, ring the bell for staff, and excuse yourself for forgetting your access code. They will soon tire.

    I love the response to the center by the parent. Very well written.

  10. Jess December 20, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Would it be too difficult to hold the door for someone, but still require them to enter their access code on the keypad before going any further? You’re still able to be polite and form a bond with someone while still tracking who was where and when.

  11. Noah December 20, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    I work at the airport and even we don’t have to slam the door in each other’s faces. Instead we just all swipe our card and if you are holding open the door for the person behind you, they swipe their card and you make sure you hear a beep and not a buzz.

  12. Kelli December 20, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    This makes me LOVE the in-home daycare our daughter goes to and makes me dread when it’s time to go to pre-school.
    I only hope I can deal with these “safety” fanatics as tactfully and eloquently as the person who wrote this.

  13. Havva December 20, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    @Beth,
    The attendance software is a separate system that we log our children onto after entering. The key pad is not tied in. Some parents have more than one kid at the center, and attendance records need to reflect the children individually. Administrators are able to log a child in/out should a parent forget (or the computer crash). The computer is backed up by teachers logging arrivals/departures on paper.

    @Naomimat,
    Yes we got the boilerplate warning to protect our access code, use our own access, and don’t hold doors for …I believe they said unknowns… when we received our code. But the director herself has stood by and watched us hold doors for one another, and smiled at us. Teachers let me in as they shepherd children in from the playground. So I don’t have to reach over the kids in the tiny vestibule to enter my code, or wait for several classes of kids coming in from the playground to clear the entry.

    @Jess, there is no sign of a failed code except inability to open the door. We could hold door while someone keys in but it would be meaningless.

  14. maggie December 20, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    I just want to mention what our school is doing since last Friday.
    Nothing.
    They did have a police officer stationed at each school building on Monday, but that was to help encourage a feeling of safety in the parents and kids. Otherwise, it’s business as usual. You normally have to go through the front office anyway, to pick up a visitors badge. No one gets past Mrs. Moore without one:). After 3:00, it really doesn’t matter. In fact, I waltzed in for a scout meeting. So did numerous other parents, 2 gentlemen from the American Legion and my husband, who really isn’t well known at the school. There really is a feeling of community at the school, and that makes us feel so much more secure than any metal detector or armed guard. In fact, this morning a group of religious leaders, parents and teachers are gathering under the flagpoles in front of each school in our district for a group prayer. As far as I can tell, there has been no opposition:)

  15. maggie December 20, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    And no one held the door for any body else! They didn’t have to; it was propped open and remained that way for the rest of the evening!

  16. Dave December 20, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    What a great response to an unnecessary and community destroying rule. Would love to her the centers response.

  17. Jennifer December 20, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    What many people seem to be forgetting in the face of this terrible tragedy is that building a community keeps us safer. When people know and care for each other they will work together to protect each other. Treating everyone like a stranger who is out to get us is not the answer. And it send the wrong message to our kids. When did we suddenly assume that kids can’t get nuance if it is explained to them? Even a five year old can understand the difference between a stranger who holds the door for you and a stranger who grabs your arm and tries to pull you somewhere.

  18. LRH December 20, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    I envy what maggie is talking about. Our school has always been that way somewhat too, but I get the feeling, based on mumblings I’m hearing, that it’s about to lose that “laid back” aesthetic. I sure hope not. I’m working on writing to the superintendent of the school to express my concerns, & I think this letter may be a good template for that.

    This addresses one of my longest held gripes, & it’s not limited to daycares, schools etc, but in a LOT of areas of life. Anymore, safety is God, and if you gripe even just a tad about the inconveniences brought on by exercising, as Lenore called it, “psuedo safety,” you’re scoffed at. Responses such as “you must not care about your child’s safety” or “this isn’t Mayberry, you know” or “we’re in the 21st century, this isn’t the 1950’s anymore” or “being THAT concerned about convenience is just lazy” etc are all too common.

    For quite sometime, our tendency has been to go the pseudo-safety route anytime something happens, even when it only happens one time, and now all the rest of humanity has to tolerate annoying “safety features” over a one-time incident–or even if it’s one-time, it’s still statistically very rare, while the inconveniences brought on by the new feature are universal to everyone. Besides the obvious ones such as schools being turned into prisons and this stupid policy, there’s also such things as these which I’m going to list:

    *Lawnmowers since the 1980s being made to shut off everytime you let go of the handle to clear an obstruction. People always modify that contraption to make it to where you no longer have to, and hurray for them.

    * Gasoline cans for the past 5-odd years, all because (as I understand it) one family had a tragedy occur from their children getting into gasoline cans & starting a fire. We’ve found the new ones more dangerous, because of that annoying switch, more gasoline is spilled trying to fiddle with, and yes, it’s just plain annoying. My shed is full of the “vintage” kinds without that annoying nonsense, anytime I see one at a garage sale, I grab it.

    *Childproof medicine containers. Thankfully, I’m starting to see “easy-open” bottles making a comeback. They even feature extra-large grips on the caps to make it VERY easy to open. We have children in the house, and yes, we have those “easy open” caps for the bottles of ibuprofen we have.

    *A prior job I worked at forbad employees from texting during work hours NOT because of supposed distractions from work, but because one person one-time texted inside information to a competitor.

    *The same job, and websites outside of work, requiring you to change your passwords every 30 days, and having very draconian rules for what the password must be (has to have 1 capital letter, must contain at least 4 differing numbers, can’t have 2 characters in a row, can’t be based on your name). Heck, if your name is Carrie and you attempt to make a password of carrie87452 it probably won’t let you because of there being 2 r’s in a row.

    *The draconian rules at city pools. Yes, drowning is a real risk, but I can’t stand how crazy they get with blowing that whistle over EVERYTHING at pools at the city park etc. I like the free-range, hover-free “you’re on your own” atmosphere you get at hotel pools or lakes without 3011 lifeguards nagging you over everything. Our 5 year old daughter managed to learn in the 8 foot deep section of the pool sans a lifejacket and WITHOUT proper swimming lessons, on account of us taking her to such places where OUR rules were in place, without any hovering from lifeguards ordered to forbid practically anything because of their fear of being sued.

    *Car safety seats–I hate the “3 point harness” design, and much prefer the design where you have one strap & one buckle point. Naturally, the sales clerks will nag & pester you about how you should buy the 3-point harness because it’s safer, and when you tell them you want the one that’s the easiest to buckle, they look at you like you’re that green alien girl from that episode of “Star Trek.”

    There are other examples I will probably think of once I click “submit,” but oh well.

    Safety does matter, of course, but there really is too much emphasis on it. The avoidance of such is practically my mission in life.

    LRH

  19. LRH December 20, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Man my posting is FULL of typos.

    3rd paragraph: or even if it’s HAPPENED MORE THAN one-time, it’s still statistically very rare.

    5th paragraph: because of that annoying switch, more gasoline is spilled trying to fiddle with IT, and yes, it’s just plain annoying.

    9th paragraph: Our 5 year old daughter managed to learn HOW TO SWIM in the 8 foot deep section of the pool sans a lifejacket and WITHOUT proper swimming lessons, on account of us taking her to such places where OUR rules were in place

    Sorry. I really need to get better at proofreading & not clicking “submit” in haste.

    LRH

  20. Amanda C December 20, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Thank you for this post. My son goes to a very small, local Montessori school, where peace, justice, and community are a part of the curriculum. He’s six-years-old and does not know anything about Sandy Hook. I’m sure they haven’t said anything in his class either, since it’s made up of 3 to 6-year-olds.

    This past summer, a new annex was built onto the school to accommodate the growing population. Because the lobby for the annex is not connected to the main office, they administered a “buzz-in” system with video monitors. Since we don’t use that part of the school, I didn’t know that they’d been utilizing the security system since the beginning of the school year. Apparently, we’ve had the same system in place in my son’s part of the school, where the front office is located, but they have never used it–until this week.

    Over the weekend, I received an email from our head of school stating that, due to the changes in society, we will now all be forced to use the “buzz-in” system. If the door is locked when you arrive, buzz the front desk. The office staff can see you on the video monitor (or, just look our a side window) and buzz you in. Since it’s only been a few days since this started, I’ve noticed when the locking takes place is inconsistent, and many times, I’ve seen parents piggyback in together. I fear the day, which will probably come soon, when the office staff will inform us to no longer piggyback for our children’s safety.

    What makes me mad about this is that our school promotes a sense of peace and community, or is supposed to be doing so. However, in the last year or so, I’ve seen more rules established that make it more difficult to create that sense of community. How is my son supposed to learn to trust the adults around him, when we’re showing him we can’t even trust each other ourselves? Our city is not very big, and violent crimes here are few and very far between. I hope, one day, our school board will talk about some of the rules we’ve instituted and decide they’re more a detriment than a benefit to our children, and ourselves as a whole.

  21. joanne December 20, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Several of my FB friends posted a picture of an armed service man with the words “Hire armed veterans to stand guard at our schools, many are unemployed.” (Or something like that). I had two schools of thought on this. 1 – that seems very prison-like to me and 2 – (and I hope I’m not being offensive) sometimes veterans return with PTSD. That seems to me like a bigger risk than arming teachers (which I’ve also seen proposed but I did teach and there’s no way in hell I’d learn or want to learn to fire a gun.)

  22. Emily December 20, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    I think there should be a middle ground. When I was living and working in the International House community in Australia, the gates to iHouse proper (I lived in the postgraduate house down the street) were kept locked, and accessed by key card. However, the rule wasn’t “don’t let anyone in,” it was “don’t let people you don’t recognize in.” If someone we didn’t recognize was trying to gain access, then we’d simply ask them, “Who are you visiting?”; or something to that effect. If they could give a satisfactory answer (for example, “I’m here to see my friend Sarah on A-Deck,”), then we’d let them in. Otherwise, they’d have to buzz themselves in during office hours, or, if it was outside of office hours, contact the iHouse mentor on duty.

  23. Lollipoplover December 20, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Has anyone considered that this lack of basic civility, not holding a door for someone you know, may set someone “off”? Community IS what this is about- the author says it so nicely. Common courtesy goes a long way in life and is something we SHOULD be teaching our children.

  24. mr. joseph's dad December 20, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    @LRH:
    *The same job, and websites outside of work, requiring you to change your passwords every 30 days, and having very draconian rules for what the password must be (has to have 1 capital letter, must contain at least 4 differing numbers, can’t have 2 characters in a row, can’t be based on your name). Heck, if your name is Carrie and you attempt to make a password of carrie87452 it probably won’t let you because of there being 2 r’s in a row.”

    passwords with standard dictionary words in them are amazingly easy to crack. the password rules forcing changes every 30 days and requiring complex passwords are *good*, they keep others out. and yes, you may not believe someone wants your password for your church’s newsletter page, but how many of you use the same password on multiple sites? do a search for how many sites get hacked because of simple passwords. then multiply that number, because the smart criminals don’t report their own crime.

  25. LRH December 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Mr. joseph’s dad I disagree. It’s an inconvenience to me, having to keep up with all of those passwords. I’m willing to accept the risk of hacking. It should be OPTIONAL. I am thankful for the sites which have allowed me to keep them the same, some for more than 10 years. I haven’t bothered to change them, nor do I intend to–and I sure as heck shouldn’t be MADE to. That should be up to me. The IT managers can get offended all I want to, but I’m the one actually USING the product, and I want it convenient.

    LRH

  26. steve December 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    THE PROBLEM is that 98 percent of the people affected by these stupid rules just go along. Every time.

  27. LRH December 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    FACEPALM!!!
    The IT managers can get offended all THEY want to, but I’m the one actually USING the product, and I want it convenient..

    Not I. Ugh.

    LRH

  28. Captain America December 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    HAWA: You go girl!

    The more that parents take the trouble to complain, the more likely it is that common sense will prevail.

    Let’s not be sheep here.

  29. Straight out of the box December 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Every new “safety initiative”, just like most generals and the TSA, are always fighting the last war. This is guaranteed to get your hinder kicked solidly and repeatedly.

    Very old wisdom that also applies in these cases, even with all’s our modren tech-know-leggy: Locks only deter honest people.

  30. Donna December 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Human beings apparently can’t stand randomness. We need to feel that we are different from people for whom tragedies occur or else we have to accept that it could be us next.

    But it is nonsensical protection that completely ignores the facts of what happened. The gunman was not admitted via tailgating on parents. The doors at Sandy Hook were locked. The school day had already started. People were not coming and going at the time. This daycare is no safer from something like Sandy Hook occurring (although we are all pretty damn safe from that); it is simply less friendly.

    But people, at least in the US, go off half-cocked about a lot of things. They make up their minds about things, often completely ignoring the facts. Like the people who mention Polly Klaus and Elizabeth Smart as reasons you should not allow your children to range free although they were both kidnapped from their bedrooms with parents home and other children in the room. People who insist pedophiles need to be monitored at all times although statistics would show an extremely low recidivism rate. It even happened here with one commenter claiming that these mass murderer are all products of broken homes when in fact none of them were. All the previous recent mass murderer came from intact

  31. Donna December 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    families and this one parents only divorced a couple years prior. We have a tendency to ignore facts not important to the point we were trying to make.

    (Sorry kindle posted before I was ready).

  32. Emily December 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    P.S., I forgot to mention, the “Who are you visiting” line of questioning (to anyone who hadn’t obviously come to iHouse for a specific purpose, such as delivering a pizza), often opened up conversations about, “Oh, I’m here to visit Sarah from A-Deck. We know each other from biology lab at uni. Where do you know her from?” Gradually, through these conversations, we’d get to know friends of our friends, and end up widening/merging our various social circles. If we’d just shut the gate in everyone’s face, then this never would have happened.

  33. Nicole December 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Hawa, I think your letter is very well-written, and I hope the directors at your center listen!

  34. AW13 December 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Well done, Hawa! You have a very well-written letter and I wish you the best of luck in getting this policy rescinded! If ever in the future I’m faced with a similar situation, I would like to use this as a template, if I could. Again, well done!

  35. marie December 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    As someone else pointed out, policy-fatigue will ensure that you’ll be able to be friendly at the door before too long. People really don’t like inconvenience and most of us really don’t like to be unfriendly. You’ll see that parents will ignore the rule and staff will ignore the fact that you are letting people piggyback through the doors. Oh, at first, you’ll have a few tattletales who will make a fuss but even they won’t like the inconvenience and they especially won’t like having the door shut in their faces. They will be pious about it and not complain, and then on a day when they are in a hurry, they will piggyback through…and then it’s just a slippery slope back to friendly neighborliness and helpfulness!

    Still, it is important to make the point you make in the letter. Good for you for speaking up.

  36. Crystal December 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    What a great letter! Well done, Hawa. I’d love to hear the center’s response.

  37. Jeff December 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Out pre school thankfully has not gone that way. They are still sane. So much so that the first time I picked up my daughter earlier this year I was questioned as to who I was. And I had no problem with this.

  38. mollie December 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Love the letter. What a stirring tribute to what community means, and how to model its value to children. Hooray.

  39. Lucinda December 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    I live in Australia. At our day care centre the children are protected from the car park by two self closing doors with handles that are too high for the children to reach.

    It is part of the center staffs job to get to know all the parents. Most of the kids know the parents too ( at least who they belong too) so when I arrive usually a little one races off screaming your Mum is here. My husband dosent pick up the kids very often but when he does he gets a very brisk reception from the staff asking who he is there for.
    I usually let the center know if someone other than my self will pick the kids up out of courtesy anyway but you have to nominate on the enrollment forms who the children can go with and if there are any family court arangments.
    Children are most likely to be hurt by some one they know so there is no need to get worked up and worry about strangers and stuff that is not likely to happen.

    There is less security at my sons school.

  40. Lucinda December 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    I should say a brisk and friendly reception :)

  41. Kimberly December 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    I live in the 4th largest city. I teach in a low socio/eco neighborhood and the neighboring apartments are apparently the go to place for drugs in the area. I have NEVER seen a buzz in system at a school or day care.

    My school has the air lock. There are double set of doors at the front. Common here in older buildings (1966) to help keep the AC in and the heat out. After first bell the 2nd doors are locked and people have to walk into the office before going to the main building. Honestly the reason isn’t random crazy person. It is the list of 50 people that are NOT to have contact with one or more of our kids – many of these come from court orders. They are people/often cell donors that harmed the kids in the past. Other’s are family members that have tried or actually taken kids in the past. There is another list of dangerous parents that have to be supervised. A couple have attacked teachers, others have a history of violent crimes outside the school.

    Tomorrow are our end of term parties/early release day. We got a reminder today – all parents need to have a tag on. If they don’t send them back to the office. We were given a sign out sheet, parents can just sign out with us instead of going to the office if they leave early with their kids. Teachers with at risk kids got a reminder e-mail about the people not allowed contact with their students.

  42. dancing on thin ice December 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    We never learn about a false sense of security. Buzz in? He smashed the glass to get in.
    Only trusted allowed access? The 1927 Bath School bombing guy was a school board member.
    Report suspicious people? I’ve read several news stories this week where going for a walk anywhere near a school qualifies as suspicious.

    Unrelated, the tweet about a video of an eagle snatching a child was a hoax by some art students. (See Snopes)

  43. Krista December 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Totally agree with you, Hawa! I can relate to your feelings of keeping your daughter home due to all the increased security. I remind myself we all must continue living and encouraging the community. I continue to have hope and faith that humanity and compassion will triumph!

  44. Warren December 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    It is not going to be easy. More so in the elementary schools.
    The high schools are a different animal. Parents need to get the students involved. Student actions, such as petitions, peaceful protest and walkouts can be effective.

    The students are not going to want a prison style school, for many reasons. Get them on board. A petition with the student name side by side with their parents could work to keep common sense alive.

  45. Michelle December 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    “passwords with standard dictionary words in them are amazingly easy to crack. the password rules forcing changes every 30 days and requiring complex passwords are *good*, they keep others out. and yes, you may not believe someone wants your password for your church’s newsletter page, but how many of you use the same password on multiple sites? do a search for how many sites get hacked because of simple passwords. then multiply that number, because the smart criminals don’t report their own crime.”

    This is factually incorrect. Yes, passwords containing dictionary words can be more easily cracked than random numbers and letters, BUT:

    * The more restrictions that are placed on your password (such as containing 2 numbers, not having punctuation or spaces, not having two of the same letter in a row), the fewer options there are for a viable password, which ALSO makes brute force cracking easier. For example, if you have a 4 digit pin, but you can’t have two numbers repeating in a row, that removes hundreds of possibilities that crackers don’t even have to try before getting in.

    * The more often users have to change their password, and the more complicated passwords have to be, the more likely users will record their password in an insecure place (like a post-it note stuck to the monitor), which also makes the entire system less secure.

    The best passwords would be simple phrases, of indeterminate length, with numbers, spaces, and punctuation optional. They would be longer, with fewer restrictions, and easier to remember, and that makes them more secure. A nice, silly example, which I gleaned from the XKCD comic on the subject, is “correct horse battery staple.”

    http://xkcd.com/936/

  46. Melanie December 21, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    Wow, the school requires that parents enter a security code? That seems so over the top. I don’t know of any schools here (Tasmania) with that requirement.

  47. Puzzled December 21, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    These schools are reacting to other schools. All it takes is for the media to report about a few schools doing something ridiculous in response, and the other schools jump on the bandwagon.

    Who wants that? It’s all part of education. The plan is to educate children to be used to a more bureacratic, prison-like society.

  48. mr. joseph's dad December 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    @michelle:

    PINs are not passwords, and usually do not fall under the same rules (in a sane environment of course, which isn’t always the case).

    and you are absolutely correct: “The best passwords would be simple phrases, of indeterminate length, with numbers, spaces, and punctuation optional.”

    but some places don’t allow that. i knew of one site where your password could be no MORE than 6 characters, had no way of distinguishing between capital or lowercase, and didn’t allow special characters at all.

    expiring passwords protects against offline attacks where you may not know that the password file was breached.

    as for handling multiple strong passwords, there are many ways to go about remembering them and the sites they go to. a better way to do it though is to use a password utility like keepass or passwordsafe to store them. i use password safe for the 100’s of accounts i use on a daily basis. without it, i’d go nuts, especially since most of them don’t expire at the same time or within the same time frame, making it harder to use the same password on them all.

    of course that’s assuming the computer you store the password safe on is safe. and that you remember the password to open it 😀

  49. Shawn December 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    What they are saying is…We are too lazy and fearful to make real changes to school policy. So we are leaving it in the hands of students and parents. Because we are so fearful, we will now start promoting rudeness, and inconsideration to our fellow human beings. And we will teach these negative traits to our children. So they can learn to be rude, selfish and fearful towards others. Then they can teach the same to their children. And eventually, natural disasters or other countries or factions will no longer be a threat to American society. Americans would have destroyed the U.S. long before those ever happen.

  50. Geoffrey Kidd December 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    At least we won’t need prisons anymore. The whole country will be one big one.

  51. John December 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Your letter is thoroughly anti-American and you should be ashamed of yourself. You talk like someone who values things like liberty, freedom, and love for fellow humans. Don’t you know those are not what makes this nation great^H^H^H^H^Hrich. Obedience is what makes us what we are; and lockdowns; and nice TSA agents who feel up our wives and kids in case they’re carrying dangerous shampoo and stuff. (Actually, some shampoo *is* dangerous — have you ever got any of that Clairol Herbal Essence in your eye? It stings like buggery!)

    Remember the old saying: Better Safe Than Free.

  52. Janet December 21, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Similar letter: http://www.nurturedbylove.blogspot.com/2012/12/fear-and-locked-doors.html

    Love this part:

    If the school district is truly concerned about reducing the risk of school shootings from negligible to even-more-negligible, they should consider the factors that are commonly cited by experts as motivating such gunmen. School shooters tend to be isolated loners who are fearful and disempowered, and they tend to take out their anger on institutions where they perceive their isolation and disempowerment to have begun. Surely it is no stretch to see that a school lockdown policy — which inhibits the free interaction between school and community, which symbolizes the isolation of students from the wider world and which restricts student movement and location — will tend over the long run to increase the likelihood of disturbed individuals choosing that school as a target. It is no mystery why US rates of school shootings continue to rise as schools get more and more controlling and “secure.” Such policies are dehumanizing. They put up barriers. They isolate. All factors that play into the disturbed thought patterns of future potential mass-murderers.

  53. Richard Steven Hack December 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    I do computer security work.

    In computer security, you are taught that hackers use “tail-gating” – the term used for coming behind someone through a security checkpoint as if you’re with them to avoid having to present identification – is a VERY common technique by hackers.

    So unfortunately if you’re at all interested in security, it need to be controlled.

    HOWEVER, one of the things I’ve learned in computer security is what I call my ‘meme”, which goes as follows:

    “You can haz better security, or you can haz worse security. But you can’t haz ‘security’. There IS NO security. Deal.”

    This means that yes, everyone is vulnerable at all times and everywhere. The question is: How do you handle that fact? The issue of security is how you handle its LACK when it OCCURS? Not prevention, not locking down everything so it can’t be used, not totally controlling people, and especially not BANNING OBJECTS.

    Gun control for instance is a physical impossibility in the US, since there are estimated 70-192 million firearms already present in country.

  54. JJ December 22, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    The NRAs recent call for armed guards at all schools as a response to Sandy Hook sure makes Hawa’s school’s new policy pretty mild on the overreaction scale.

  55. Havva December 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    After daycare lost the above email, I found out that corporate made the rule. I sent a followup which was forwarded up the chain of command. I was informed today that parents and staff may let in people they recognize.

  56. Chris Casazza January 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Lenore,
    You couldn’t be more far from the truth about the daycare scenario. In our daycare, you need a fingerprint to get into the building. It’s a busy school and if I don’t recognize the parent, I let the door shut behind me. I’ve actually had a scenario where there person behind me was a contractor and tried to come in behind me; I stopped him and asked him politely if I could help me find someone. He stated the Director and their name and I asked them to stay in the lobby. I walked 20 feet and got the Director and she let them in.

    My kids safety is way more important some random parents feelings. If they want to get in the building, use the fingerprint system, thats why it’s there.

    Your statement is way off base and in tyical journalist fashion, is taken out of context. The letter from the Director is about common sense. Maybe you should find some.

  57. Sam Yorko January 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    Interesting. I worked for a company where one day an employee tailgated into the building, because a fellow employee recognized him and let him in.,

    Only he wasn’t an employee any more; he had been fired for cause the previous day and escorted from the building. Once in, he assaulted his former boss.

    This is not a “friend of a friend” story; I knew both the former employee and the boss. Ever since, i ask to see badges.

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