2013 CABA Essay Winners

Each spring, the CABA Law Related Education Committee conducts an essay contest for 8th grade area students. This year's Committee was chaired by Jessica Morris. The three winners, their parents, family members, and teachers attended the June CABA Membership Meeting. The winners were recognized and received a certificate as well as a cash prize from CABA. The first place winner read his essay.

  • 1st Place Winner from Madison Central, Nelson Washington, received a $250 prize. He is pictured with the Committee Members: Adria Hertwig; Jessica Morris, Chairman; Mimi Speyerer, and LaVerne Edney.

  • 2nd Place Winner from St. Joseph, Blaine Turner, Jr, received a $200 prize. He is pictured with Committee Members: Adria Hertwig; Jessica Morris, Chairman; Mimi Speyerer, and LaVerne Edney.

  • 3rd Place Winner from St. Joseph, Ellie Smith, received a $150 prize. She is pictured with Committee Members: Adria Hertwig; Jessica Morris, Chairman; Mimi Speyerer, and LaVerne Edney.

1st Place Essay

Code Word Safety: What Do You Think Can Be Done to Keep Schools Safe from Violence?

D. Nelson Washington

Article by D. Nelson Washington Featured Author


School safety has always been a forefront concern with school officials and government agencies. Years ago, running in the hallways was one of the biggest safety concerns facing administrators. Today, with the increase of school shootings and killings, the fears and worries surrounding school safety have escalated. School safety is a major concern from the local levels of government to the federal. There is much that can be done to ensure that schools are protected from future violence.

When violence strikes a school, it affects the entire community. Schools and their host communities must team up to maintain their schools' safety. Schools should form watch teams with area leaders and churches, in conjunction with professional safety advisers. Setup visits where these individuals discuss the ramifications of gun violence and present creative approaches to mentor both the students and faculty on remaining safe. Have them to speak on the morality and humanism surrounding violence and the spiritual aspect of loving and respecting each another.

Schools should consider the concerns, thoughts, and suggestions of solutions of its teachers, parents, and students. They are vital in the prevention of violent situations at schools. Find ways to encourage your students to be proactive in the fight against violent. Train students to counselor their peers, and incorporate hall monitors. In addition, schools should provide parents and teachers with guidelines for discussing violence with the students.

Every school has procedures in place for emergency situations, such as, fires and tornadoes. Proactive measures should be in place prior to an unfortunate, violent incident. This entails having both an emergency plan and an emergency back-up plan or plans. Documentation stating specific instructions on what to do in a violent emergency (a) must exist; (b) must give scenarios and steps faculty should take in response; (c) must be reviewed and given to EVERY faculty and staff personnel of that school; (d) must be reviewed and presented to the students. Drills or lockdowns should take place; in addition to the fire and tornado drills schools complete throughout the year.

Many schools now have a constant flow of law enforcement agents, who walk the hallways and patrol the premises. Police presence is a definite deterrence to Violent incidents. Other options available in the prevention of violence in schools are the installation of metal detectors — to prevent unauthorized weapons from entering the schools; video monitors — to monitor the grounds; automatic locks and gates — to deter violators from accessing hallways and classrooms; and exit door alarm systems — to prevent intruders from gaining unlawful entry. Anonymous reporting systems aid in promoting compliance with school rules.

In order to ensure the educational success of one's students, each school must provide a safe and secure learning environment. Much can be done and is needed to prevent any further violent acts from occurring on school grounds. Communication is the key. Schools must communicate internally, with parents and students, with its community, with law enforcement, with government, and with other schools to ascertain the safety of our schools.