Posts Tagged ‘#earlyed’

Heroin: The Python in Schools Across America

March 1st, 2017 | Drug Abuse | Comments Off on Heroin: The Python in Schools Across America

Heroin: the python in our schools.

By William J. Smith & Stephanie Kent

Imagine finding your 8th grader collapsed on the floor of his or her bedroom… breathless, cold, and gone from the physical world. This trauma was experienced by Branden Stock’s parents in Laguna Niguel, California. Brandon was lifeless because of an overdose on Vicodin. It was also experienced by the families of 13 year-olds Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth due to their synthetic drug overdoses. The same loss moved Josh Brabender’s dad to write a letter to eighth graders about the horrors of drug use. “Why would I burden you with this information [as eighth graders]? The answer is because when Josh was in 8th grade he was perfect and beautiful and innocent just like all of you. In high school he discovered drugs, and eventually he found heroin.” Heroin took Josh’s young life, and “wrapped itself around his neck like a python until it eventually strangled the life out of him. It is the devil incarnate—pure evil.”

Tragically, more than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses alone in 2015. Envision each state alone losing more than one thousand residents each year to drugs. Overdose statistics have soared to new heights due to heroin and prescription painkillers. Heroin deaths alone rose to 12,989 in 2015, causing even more deaths than gun homicide.¹

How does heroin abuse begin?

A jaw-dropping 75% of high school heroin users report having experimented with opiates only after initially being introduced to prescription painkillers.² In her interview with 60 Minutes, Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that we live in a country of about 312 million people and 210 million opiate prescriptions per year! However, painkillers are expensive both on and off the legal market, so what’s the cheapest alternative? HEROIN.

Why is heroin on the rise in all middle and high schools?
  1. It’s cheap! Heroin costs about $10/pill for a high that’s extremely acute and addictive.
  2. It has evolved into more “clean” and easy forms. It no longer requires needles and back alley injections. Taking heroin can be as simple as breaking open one tiny capsule and snorting the powder. This method makes both the drug and its ingestion less detectable.
  3. Children often have easy access to prescription painkillers in the cabinets, spurring their susceptibility to heroin addiction when it becomes available.
How can society help to solve the heroin epidemic in schools?
  1. Doctors: Avoid over-prescribing opiates to ALL patients.
  2. Parents: Keep all household prescription drugs inaccessible to children. Dispose of any unused or unfinished bottles of painkillers.
  3. Parents: Be mindful of the addictive consequences of painkillers when prescribed to your child, and be sure your child isn’t overusing or abusing the medication.
  4. Schools: Mandate student-counselor meetings to assess mental health of and evaluate potential drug dependency in students.
  5. Schools: Incorporate a drug education program with a large focus on opiate use and abuse for elementary-aged children and up.

For additional information on how you can maximize the safety of your students, CLICK HERE to contact American School Safety online, or call us at 1-866-200-4545 to schedule a free on-site consultation. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.


²Arlotta C (2015). Forbes.

School Security and Safety Product Expenditures: Which Security Products Merit Your Consideration?

December 20th, 2016 | School Security | Comments Off on School Security and Safety Product Expenditures: Which Security Products Merit Your Consideration?

Recommended School Safety & Security Solutions for 2017

By William J. Smith & Stephanie Kent

Our firm is routinely contacted by schools and asked to evaluate products that enhance safety and security within their districts. The following article highlights products that we have evaluated that have advanced technology solutions in the K-12 and College markets.

We are not compensated or remunerated by any of the manufacturers of the products listed in this article.

According to the research company IHS Technology, K-12 schools and universities in the United States spent approximately $768 million in 2014 on video-surveillance equipment, access-control equipment and mass notification systems in order to address school security, safety and emergency management issues in our nation’s schools. IHS Technology expects expenditures in security products to climb to approximately $907 million in this current school year. While some may argue that such spending increases are a hyper reaction to constant reports of school violence and safety issues, these expenditures come at a time when both state and local budget cuts are potentially limiting certain educational opportunities for children. I would argue, however, that school security is not an area in which our schools should be compromising on budget, especially considering the 98+ school shootings that have been reported in the U.S. since January, 2015. Additionally, the Wall Street Journal has presented evidence of a direct negative correlation between reported security spending and school emergencies. A 2014 U.S. Education Department survey of approximately 1,400 public schools in the nation, 75% reported using at least one security camera (up from 61% in 2009-2010), and 82% of schools reported installing electronic notification systems (up from 63% in 2009-2010). Comparatively, reported incidents of school violence had dropped from 74% to 65% in the same time frame.

The seemingly large annual expense on school security only becomes excessive when schools are investing in sub-par products which ultimately require supplementary product purchases to be most effective. When investing in high-grade and reputable security products, schools are certainly not overspending, which begs the question:

What companies provide products and technologies that will enhance our district’s ability to respond and react to security and safety incidents?

Here are a few that we believe merit your consideration:

1. Avigilon
Avigilon Appearance Search video analytics technology is a state of the art advanced search engine software utilizes facial recognition that allows the end user to scan video storage devices and quickly locate a person or vehicle of interest across an entire school property. The Avigilon Appearance Search technology can assist school officials and first responders of incidents or potential security issues, by issuing mobile alerts that advise law enforcement and school safety committee members of an issue, so that they can immediately respond and thereby improve incident resolution. Other helpful features include computation of people count and movement patterns, especially important in places of mass gathering. This technology can also be used to increase the efficiencies of codified lockdown and shelter in place procedures by identifying the location of students, faculty, staff and visitors for evacuation and headcount purposes.

2. Social Sentinel
Social Sentinel uses propriety algorithm technologies to search the “digital cloud” that exists above our schools and communities. It analyses publicly available postings on social media venues like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The information that is available in this public sphere can be analyzed and synthesized to protect schools and communities. Social Sentinel constantly scans public posts for suspicious terms and phrases, and immediately alerts the end user when those words are found that could impact the community. Words such as; kill, shoot, stab, bomb, and suicide would immediately prompt the system to identify the sender. Once the identity of the subject is verified, the data is immediately forwarded to school and public safety officials with authority to decide whether the posted message merits additional investigation or referral.

3. Mutualink
Mutualink is an award winning, multi-media communications platform that provides a direct link with Police, Fire, EMS, and other law enforcement entities in emergency situations. Mutualink K12 is a gateway for live voice, video, data and text communications, providing first responders with increased situational awareness in real time allowing them to respond much more rapidly to any facility threat. Mutualink’s advanced technology system (IRAPP) incorporates an all-in-one device to bridge radio, video, telephone and PA/intercom systems, in our schools and campuses. Another key feature of the Mutualink product is the ‘panic button’, which can be installed in the central office, , or installed onto smartphones as an application. Either method immediately connects the caller to law enforcement agencies and simultaneously launches the Mutualink system. Studies conducted by Mutualink’s client districts performing situational response drills reduced the time to incident resolution by forty (40) percent.

Why Should Schools Consider Purchasing Advanced Technology Products like These?

Spending on high-tech security products that assist schools in areas of Safety, Security and Emergency Management will unquestionably increase efficiencies by constantly monitoring their facilities and alerting staff and first responders of threats that can impact the safety and well- being of students, faculty, staff and visitors. These products can be a valuable tool for School Resource Officers in crime reduction and prevention, crowd control and vehicle identification. Schools can identify risks in public postings on social media to potentially prevent acts of violence including suicide. Using Mutualink’s K 12 system, schools can rapidly respond to address emergencies by linking first responders and the school or district emergency response team in real time to share vital information and decrease time to resolution.

It is my considered opinion that use of these products will prove to reduce risk and provide additional safeguards, by leveraging technologies to enhance safety, security and emergency response in our schools.

Next steps for School Administrators

For additional information on how your school can maximize the safety of your students, administrators, and staff, click here to contact American School Safety online, or call us at 1-866-200-4545 to schedule a free on-site consultation. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.

“5 of the Most Innovative Surveillance Cameras in 2015.” IFSEC Global.
Abramsky, Sasha. “The School-Security Industry Is Cashing In Big on Public Fears of Mass Shootings.” The Nation.
D’Ambrosio, Dan. “Start-up keeps eye on social media for threats.” USA Today.
“Mutualink K12 Links Schools, Responders Enhance Safety.” Business Wire.
Porter, Caroline. “Spending on School Security Rises.” Wall Street Journal.