Safety in partnerships
Feb 04, 2013 | 441 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since the inexplicable massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the safety of America’s children in seemingly sacred settings has dominated debate among those still struggling to cope with such unthinkable tragedy.

Time, physical distance and state borders have done little to calm frazzled nerves.

If anything, emotions have been stirred even further following school shootings in San Diego and most recently in Houston.

In the minds of most, and appropriately so, what happened in tiny Newtown can haunt the residents of any community, our own Cleveland and Bradley County hometown included.

It is little wonder local government and education leaders are joining the ranks of others across Tennessee and nation to better secure our local schools through whatever means necessary, some of which are being met with mixed reviews. This includes the proposed empowering of school boards to authorize trained administrators, staff and teachers within their systems to carry concealed weaponry as a deterrent to that which occurred at Sandy Hook.

We will have more to say on these impassioned, though debatable, proposals at a later date.

In the meantime, we will point to an action taken by a local organization — also geared toward child safety — whose sole purpose is the care, well-being and nurturing of its youthful membership. We speak of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, a much respected United Way of Bradley County member agency which has upped its own security through a mindful partnership with the Cleveland Rotary Club.

Certainly, it is not a foolproof defense against armed intruders nor others who invade with the intent to do harm, but it is a step in the right direction. As reported by our newspaper in early January, all seven Boys & Girls Clubs sites have installed a security camera system as part of the organization’s Kids Safety Project.

The complex systems have been funded through a Cleveland Rotary Club grant.

The security cameras provide a reliable surveillance of all areas of the clubs, and wall-mounted iPads serve as a sign-in mechanism for all children who key in their personal user numbers in order to enter the facility. Such devices also are used to keep track of the location of each of the children while they are inside the Boys & Girls Clubs facility.

Not only can the new security system help to identify, or to locate, unauthorized personnel on the premises, it also serves to deter potential inner-club troubles such as theft or bullying — both of which are targeted in day-to-day programming offered at the family-friendly centers.

Real-time footage relayed from the cameras to monitor screens allows for continuous updates. Club directors and program coordinators use the surveillance system to ensure operations are running smoothly and that young members are behaving responsibly and respectfully, and are abiding by all organization rules and guidelines.

As mentioned, such surveillance systems can do much to protect the little ones inside, but no one claims them to be fail-safe.

Yet, their effectiveness and their limitations are not the point. Rather, of significance is that this fine nonprofit organization raised the bar on its own security through a private grant provided by Cleveland Rotarians. It isn’t the first time. Past gifts have included a new playground, a gym curtain and fencing around the club’s athletic field.

One wonders if such partnerships can help pave the way for increased security in other public settings such as schools where the very safety of our children trumps even the original purpose of their attendance; that being, a quality education.

We salute the foresightedness of the Cleveland Rotary Club, and other groups just like it, whose members are targeting practical, and prioritized, local uses of their resources.

We hope other shared initiatives will step into the spotlight.