School security requires balance

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kearney High School officials say they're trying to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to recent incidents at the school.

We understand the temptation.

There have been more than 40 citations issued at the high school this semester, and in one of the latest, a 17-year-old boy was charged with felony third-degree assault after allegedly hitting a Kearney Police Department officer in the side of the face with his elbow as the officer tried to escort him to an administrative office.

On Dec. 10, the school received a bomb threat by mail, but after classes were dismissed and the building and grounds were searched, no bomb was located.

Coupled with other incidents around the country, the Omaha mall shooting especially, school disruptions make it easy to overreact.

Certainly, precautions need to be taken. School security probably has been lax for too many years. Resource officers, security cameras and controlled access are part of more and more high schools, especially the larger ones.

But we think KHS Principal Steve Wickham takes the right, balanced stance: the school is "not going to become an armed fortress."

We hope it's a long time before students, teachers and visitors are subjected to metal detectors and strip searches before entering any Nebraska high school.

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