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When Safety and Fear Co-Exist

A note before I begin: this article was written in response to a request from my editor at, to speak about safety in the Scarsdale Public Schools after the Newtown shootings.  I write humor, as you know, but what you may not know is that I do it in large part to kind of balance all the sad in the world.  But in this case, I had to write about the sad.

Enough said!  Here’s the piece, which is specific to my experiences in Scarsdale, but can be understood elsewhere, certainly.


As both a parent of two elementary-aged children in the district and as a former Scarsdale Middle School teacher, I feel comfortable sharing with you what I know and what I believe about safety. Scarsdale schools do have in place a good security system, which was implemented after 9/11. It works as long as people do not prop open the doors out of laziness or for convenience. Teachers and students also have lockdown practices and the faculty conducts yearly drills with local police.

But you know all of this. You’ve heard it from our school superintendent, Michael McGill, and other officials. Rationally, we can say, the doors are locked, the teachers are aware of what to do. But, ultimately, we never really know what will happen in life.

And so that’s why I say that I feel as safe as I possibly can feel about sending my children to school in a world where random, unimaginable violence lives.

To surrender to the fears I felt on Monday when I put my children on the school bus would have meant giving in to terror. I refuse to do that.

I do not want our schools to become prisons. I do not want there to be guards outside every door. I want my children, when they are older, to feel free to come and go on the high school campus, provided they don’t cut biology class in order to get a sandwich at Lange’s. I refuse to let terror rule my life. Continue reading here.

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