Made-Up, Non-Existent, IT-NEVER-HAPPENED Attack Prompts District-Wide School Safety Mandates

Readers kbtbszeisr
— Remember, our new motto here is “PERCEPTION IS NOT REALITY.” I coined it out of dismay at the way even made-up threats and freakish fears can prompt real-world changes to life and legislation. Here’s the latest, mind-boggling example. It comes to us from London (Canada) Free Press reporter Kelly Pedro:

School Board Says Pupils Can’t Walk Alone To or From Their Portable [Classroom] During the Day by Kelly Pedro

Is 60 metres too far for a 12-year-old to walk alone during the day in a school yard?

Apparently so.

On the heels of a reported incident at one elementary school last June — a reported attack on a schoolgirl that never took place — the Thames Valley District school board has ruled pupils can’t walk between a school and a portable without at least one other person.

The new rule plays on the idea of safety in numbers and was put in place after the reported incident at Sir George-Etienne Cartier elementary school, said Karen Edgar, the public board’s superintendent responsible for safe schools.

In that reported incident, a schoolgirl told police she was attacked by a masked man while she was walking alone between the school and her portable after a bathroom break.

Police revealed the next day the attack never took place, but that didn’t stop the board from putting the new rule in place.

The public board has 134 elementary schools and 235 active portables.

“Diligent supervision is always a good idea. This is certainly one easy measure we can put in place that can hopefully avert something from potentially happening,” said Edgar. “Lucky that it wasn’t a real situation, but sometimes it takes an event to make you step back and think here’s something simple we can put in place and do differently just in case it was the real thing.”

But one expert said rules like that only teach children they can’t trust anyone and they’re only safe if they’re in a locked classroom or at home with their parents.

“People love to be afraid. They want to feel like they’re under siege. They feel good about coming to the rescue of kids and if kids don’t need rescuing, then by golly we’ll come up with something they need rescuing from so we can show that we’re doing something and we’re proactive and we care,” said Lenore Skenazy, a public speaker and author of the book Free-Range Kids, who is based in New York City.

Free-Range Kids, she said, battles the message that our children are in constant danger. …

Read more  right here.

School district responds to bogeyman alert.

School district responds to bogeyman alert.

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28 Responses to Made-Up, Non-Existent, IT-NEVER-HAPPENED Attack Prompts District-Wide School Safety Mandates

  1. Kimberly Herbert November 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Our 5th graders would rebel if someone tried to push this rule on them. Only K and 1 have a buddy to the bathroom rule and 1st stops after Winter Break. Our Music teacher is in the portables and she will send a buddy with a new kid during their first couple of weeks of school.

  2. hineata November 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    That’s just hilarious! I presume a ‘portable’ is like an extra classroom not physically attached to a bigger building? And a twelve year old would have to walk across, horrors, open ground to get to it? Makes you wonder how folk spent 2 years on the Oregon Trail, in pretty much the open air the whole time.

    Like many teachers, I have those odd one or two kids that I would not let walk unaccompanied from my classroom across the open playground to the office – because they are little #@$%, or sensible individuals, depending on your viewpoint, who would abscond at the first opportunity. For your normal kid, this situation is beyond sick. I hope the kids concerned rebel.

  3. Maggie November 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm #


    If tomorrow, 2 girls walking together, falsely report that 2 masked men attacked them, will the new rule be “3 kids or more”?

    What if they falsely accuse a teacher? Do suddenly all teachers become dangerous because of 1 false report?

  4. Earth.W November 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    The create the society you want, you mould the children. What a lovely society to control.

  5. lollipoplover November 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    I’d be more worried what two 12 year-olds in the middle of puberty could get up to walking together than the unlikely random scenerio of an attack on a school girl.

    Making kids walk small distances without direct supervision is a right of passage. Taking it away from them with stupid safety rules denies them the opportunity to become competent at the most basic of tasks. Instead, this school is creating anxiety-inducing imaginary scenerios. So sad.

  6. anonymous this time November 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    Oh, the things we used to tell each other happened to us when we were kids. Because we’d been told not to get in strangers’ cars, we’d thrill each other with false tales of being lured. Because we were told that there might be offers of candy, we’d tell each other false tales of being offered candy. I don’t recall telling any of those tales to adults, but surely some kid made up a story here and there about something fantastic that had to do with predation to divert attention from the fact they were late, their homework went missing, they broke something?

    I would think LOTS of kids are making up stories like this these days. It is a 100% guaranteed way to get the immediate, unblinking attention of adults, and, probably, change the lives of a whole community in the process as well. Talk about power!

    Anyway, the whole, “My, I’m so glad this little kid told us a tall tale about what happened because now we are clued in to the POSSIBILITY of danger” thing is a sad commentary about lack of empathy. Did anyone bother to investigate WHY the girl told this tale in the first place? And did anyone step back and think about what enacting knee-jerk security rules would actually do for them?

  7. lollipoplover November 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    @anonymous this time-
    We’ve had several *safety alerts* from school about attempted lurings. One in particular, a middle school girl approached at a bus stop, made the news. The next day, in the very bottom of the local paper, the police said it was false- the van driver was asking for directions. The school never send out a correction, we just leave these kids in a perpetual paranoid state that these type of *incidents* (so I guess you can never ask a child anything without it being misconstrued as a luring?)

  8. anonymous this time November 4, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    I’m with you, there, Lollipoplover.

    “Eek! A grown man tried to TALK to me!” is enough to make the paper nowadays. Sheesh. And then, when it turns out that there was nothing untoward happening, no one bothers to say, “Hey! Community! We’re actually all right! We can go ahead and interact with each other in a way that honours and encourages connection! No need to be looking over your shoulder all the time!” Instead, it’s, “Well, that might not have been the real thing, but we all know it COULD happen, so best to leave everyone with that lingering sense of doom… for their own safety.”

    BLAH, I say.

  9. Tim November 4, 2013 at 5:59 am #

    What is a portable?

  10. Alyssa Morris November 4, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Though there has been no “incident” that I’ve ever heard of, it’s already the rule at my daughter’s elementary school that 3 walk together to and from the trailers. That way if they drop one off (at the nurse, for example) they will still have two to walk back. Totally absurd from my point of view, but our school doesn’t subscribe to many of the other restrictions you’ve written about here, so I’ve chosen to let this one go… For now.

  11. Steve Cournoyer November 4, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    Charter some “helicopter” Moms to patrol the area in question….see how long that would last….

  12. Donna November 4, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    This is an absurd rule made for an absolutely ridiculous reason but give me a break on the gloom and doom and rebellion on behalf of the kids. What tween/teen actually WANTS to go anywhere by themselves? For them this is the best.rule.EVER. It makes mandatory exactly what they want to do every second of the day anyway – take their BFF with them. Only kids with no friends will be opposed to this rule.

    Ten to one that it is the TEACHERS who put a stop to this rule within a short period of time when they are tired of every trip out of the classroom now taking twice as long.

  13. Michael F November 4, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Asteroids and space debris falling to earth are events that have happened in the past and yet no one is trying to put cities under domes to protect us and the children. Yet…

  14. Andy November 4, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    @Donna Tweens/teens usually do not go to toilette during class time. They go there during breaks, so I doubt teachers will care much about needed time.

    Tween/teen boys around here usually do not want a friend with them on toilette. Only some girl groups do that.

  15. Donna November 4, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    @ Andy – Tweens and teens went to the bathroom during class time almost exclusively when I was a kid. There wasn’t enough time between classes to get the stuff we needed and get to the bathroom. Better to wait and leave during class than to be tardy to class. All the teachers had hall passes readily available to just grab as you walked out the door.

    Further, if kids are never leaving the classroom then the rule is irrelevant and this whole post reflects a bunch of adults (meaning the ones here as well as at the school) getting their knickers in a twist over something with absolutely no meaning since it affects nobody.

    In my school – every one I ever attended – the rule was almost always only one person could go to the bathroom at a time. And, no, it was not to breed independence. It was because getting a few unscheduled minutes outside the classroom with a friend to goof off was alot of fun. That would be the point of going to the bathroom in groups, not actually going to the bathroom. Heck, half of the time that I “went to the bathroom” even alone I didn’t truly have to go to the bathroom. I just wanted to move around for a few minutes. I sometimes think people here forget being a kid. Or maybe they were always so buttoned-down and serious.

  16. Dirge November 4, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    I guess the lesson of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” no longer apply. Instead of teaching kids about the dangers of false reporting, now we are teaching them that anything they say will get a reaction. Great lesson.

  17. Merrick November 4, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    As a substitute teacher, I have literally had the experience of a student refusing to speak to me because I was a “stranger”.

    Schools can be ridiculous places.

  18. Emily November 4, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    If this rule had been in place when I was a kid, I would have been completely mortified. I almost never asked to go to the bathroom during class, because I’ve always been a private person, even as a kid. So, it was on the way out for recess or lunch, and ONLY on the way out for recess and lunch, because we usually had to ask permission once we were outside. At the school I went to from grades five through eight, the teachers implemented a rule when I was in grade seven or eight, where you actually had to get a PASS from the teacher on duty, to go inside for any reason, and there’d be a teacher inside making sure that nobody took too long. These passes were laminated and fluorescent red, so everyone knew when someone was going. Each teacher only had five at a time, so this created “artificial scarcity,” in that they didn’t want too many people coming and going at once. They were also sometimes abused–like on the coldest day of grade seven (why our teachers would make us go outside in -25 C weather is beyond me), when there were about 20 or 30 students crowded around the tiniest girl in grade six, who had the last pass. Even then, this system made school feel even more like prison. I think a better system would be the one we had when I was in kindergarten–we had tags hanging on hooks near the classroom door, and if you had to go, you took one and went; no asking necessary. The teacher would then count up the tags, see who was missing, and put two and two together. Granted, this was in 1989, when the rules were a lot more lenient, but it prevented a lot of embarrassment while still keeping all of the students more or less accounted for.

  19. Emily November 4, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    P.S., Back to my main point–asking permission was bad enough; having to take a “buddy” would have been exponentially worse.

  20. Papilio November 4, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    (Argh! Why can’t I use Tab to get from the ‘name fields’ to this text field?)

    Like Andy I’m a bit surprised these kids go to the bathroom-without-bath-or-shower / washroom-with-just-a-toilet-bowl / toilet / water closet (yes, please free me from my confusion) during class. It would happen in primary school (where you’d be in the same class room all day) and you had to ask the teacher for permission to go, in secondary school there was indeed no time between classes, you just had to wait for the breaks, though on rare occassions people would ask the teacher if they could go (I remember one girl jokingly warning the teacher that if he refused, HE had to clean up after class… 😀 ).

  21. Warren November 4, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    In elementary school we all asked to go to the restrooms.

    In high school, asked once, was denied, went anyway. After that just excused myself. Just waited for an appropriate time, as in not while the teacher was instructing.

    The whole hall pass thing is foreign to any school I have dealt with.

    Donna, I doubt teachers are going allow bff’s to go together. They will nominate the student safety buddy to go with. Though, parents with any common sense will fight this school on treating their kids like infants.

  22. Emily November 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    >>Though, parents with any common sense will fight this school on treating their kids like infants.<<

    Great……now, let's just hope that there are some parents with common sense.

  23. CrazyCatLady November 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    This has happened at my school, and I have fought it tooth and nail, but get no results. For the record, my school is different. It is basically a school for homeschoolers, where secondary kids can attend classes for a a couple of hours 2-3 days or all day. Elementary kids attend one of two days, up to all day. Our school is located in a church, next to an alternative high school. Our school is expanding, and the high school is getting smaller, so we have 2 portables (buildings placed like mobile homes and not attached) that are close to the church. One extra room is at the back of the alternative high school, out of sight of the church.

    At first, it was just the STEAM class that was in this back room, one day a week. Even them, 6-8 grade, they had to take a teacher to go to the bathroom. It was later downgraded to a buddy. Now, due to more students, younger students are there too for classes. ALL students have to wait on the basketball court and go as a group. All students have to leave together. None of the bells are aligned with the high school. And in the elementary ages, a kid always has to go to the bathroom and if there is no adult volunteers the teacher has to radio for someone to walk over, or, if it is an emergency, the whole class has to walk over to use the church bathroom. TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.

    I really, really don’t care if my kids come in contact with the high school kids. The high school kids are ALSO going to school, and I feel should be praised for staying in school! Yes, some dress strange. So do some of the homeschool kids. Yes, some of the alternative school kids smoke – but that doesn’t happen on campus – they go to the park across the road. (And I know there are some homeschool kids experimenting with drugs.) The whole thing is stupid.

  24. Michelle November 4, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    Tim, portable buildings are like temporary buildings (which usually don’t end up being temporary) that are added on outside the school when the school outgrows their regular building.

    Papilio, restroom, bathroom, washroom, and toilet are all acceptable. Yes, they are all euphemisms. Even “toilet” means a place to wash up. English is just like that.

  25. delurking November 5, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    The real reason for the rule is probably that the snowflakes tell their parents crazy or embellished stories, and the parents go nuts and threaten to sue the school or cause other headaches. By having kids go together, at least they have another witness.

  26. Papilio November 5, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    @Michelle: I’m sure many, if not all, languages are like that when it comes to taboos… But I also thought maybe there’d be geographical differences.

  27. Christy November 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    At the school where I teach, it is school policy for students to take a buddy with them anytime they leave the class, even 4th- 6th graders. When someone has to go to the clinic, we send 3 (!) in case the sick one stays. I’ve had students ask if they have to take a buddy to go across the hall to another teacher’s room. When I asked about the policy, I was told it was for their safety. Are they going to trip and fall walking to the bathroom? I’ve actually heard kids ask a classmate, “Will you take me to the bathroom?” 4th graders! Drives me crazy! Still working on changing it.

  28. Emily November 5, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    @Christy–Would it be possible to talk to the parents of your students, and get them to write notes saying, “I give [My Child] permission to walk alone in the school building?”; if they do? Maybe if this became a school-wide effort, then the administration would get a clue, and realize that it’s not dangerous for students to go to the bathroom (or wherever) alone.