Still in Denial: Three Years After Sandy Hook

December 14 marks the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults. But this anniversary is different because it comes on the heels of the Islamic terrorist attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 and injured 17. Given this, what has your local school done to prevent another tragedy?

All across the country political leaders, school personnel, and parents have moved beyond the emotionalism that has influenced mindless policies of so-call gun free zones. Finally, scores of teachers are now rising up from a posture of being defenseless sheep to that of taking responsibility for their personal defense and that of the children they are entrusted to protect. 

Incredibly, most educators are still waiting anxiously for their school leaders to do the right thing. Remember all the endless chatter immediately following the Sandy Hook tragedy? School officials everywhere sent letters to frantic parents promising all the things they would do to ensure the safety of their kids. Where I was teaching, even the police chief was invited to speak at our school board meeting, of which only about 8 minutes was actually dedicated to school safety -- and still no change. Sadly, for many schools it appears to have been all hype. But how could this be after so many innocent lives have been lost?

Those in charge are so paralyzed by their own cowardice that they find all sorts of excuses for inaction. My personal favorites are: “It’s not likely to happen here,” “We don’t want to freak out parents,” or “We just don’t have the budget.”

In reality, the problem is not budgets or anything else. The problem is denial. 

To understand denial, all we have to do is look at school safety from another angle -- fire. How many school children in North America have died from fire in the last half century? The answer is zero. And the reason is simple. We are inundated with highly effective redundancy systems that include smoke alarms, fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire exits, fire hydrants, fire resistant tiles, paint, and other materials. We also have fire drills so everyone can practice how to escape safely. Finally, to make sure everything humanly possible is being done to prevent death by fire, we undergo regular safety inspections by the local fire chief. We do these things because we believe they make children safe. And they do!

Now, how many children and faculty have been killed or injured as a result of violence in American schools?  During the 1998/1999 school year, for example, “there were 35 murders and 257,700 serious injuries,” says Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former West Point professor and international expert on the psychology of killing. By 2004/2005, 48 murders took place in schools -- a new record. In short, according to Grossman, “our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed by violence than fire, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured by violence as compared to fire.” And these figures don’t even include total homicides from more recent years or the 26 murders that occurred at Sandy Hook in just one day!

Yet, many schools are willing to take their chances. They are willing to mortgage their personal reputations, careers, and financial stability. Shamefully, they are willing to risk lives. 

What's it going to take, an even higher body count? Given the ease at which the recent Paris attacks were perpetrated, do we really want to wait until Jihadists hit our schools? 

Let’s get real. The failed “hide and hope” lockdown procedure is obviously not a survival strategy, and must be replaced with highly effective redundancy systems much like what schools have put in place to prevent death by fire.

For example, undercover armed security should be on every campus with signs posted accordingly. More and more schools are following Utah’s lead by allowing voluntary carrying of concealed firearms by lawful and well-trained school personnel. These schools have an advantage over a would-be killer who won't know who is armed and who isn't. 

Don’t trust armed teachers? Did you know that Utah schools have allowed armed personnel for well over a decade? Schools in Harrold, Texas are going on their ninth year, yet there have been no shooting attempts by bad guys or even mishaps by the armed good guys. In fact, in his 2011 seminar Bulletproof Mind Lt. Col. Dave Grossman stated he “cannot find one single case where a multiple homicide happened in a school when there was armed security present in that building.” Now, that’s security!

School administrators who insist on creating gun free zones -- more accurately called “killing zones” -- are legally liable for the safety of every child and staff member. It would therefor be wise for them to seriously rethink why, after all this time and so many attacks, they still haven’t applied the same standards against school massacres as they have for fire. Remember, it may be our natural God-given right to defend ourselves, but it’s also our duty to defend our children.

It’s time to move beyond the politics of denial. It has no survival value.

Kimberly Bloom Jackson is a former actress turned teacher and anthropologist. She can be found snooping into Hollywood, education, and culture at