Re-Examining Elementary School Security: Kyron Horman 2nd-Grader Disappearance Triggers Portland Security Changes

Posted by on June 9, 2010

A Portland second-grader missing from his elementary school has triggered a search, parent anxiety, and questions over elementary school security.

Last Friday, second-grader Kyron Horman disappeared from the halls of Skyline School in Portland, Oregon.  He was last reportedly seen attending a science fair with this stepmother.

During an interview on the incident for a story with The Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond, I noted:

 “That would be the first place that would be logical to expect investigators to pursue and rule out: Is there a custody or family dynamic outside of the school itself?” Trump said. “That is certainly not to say there have not been instances of strangers” taking kids from schools. But he said there are at most a handful of U.S. cases each year.

In our school safety assessments around the nation, administrators and safety officials at the high school and middle school level often focus on student-on-student aggression and violence.  At the elementary level, the first conversations (after parent pick-up and drop-off traffic congestion) typically focus on non-custodial parent related safety concerns.

In the Portland case, there are currently no reports of foul play by anyone in the child’s family.  The student was reportedly last seen by his stepmother walking down a hallway just several hundred feet from his classroom after the boy and his stepmother attended a school science fair. 

So if the investigation turns out to show no custody or family issues, the focus will continue to zero in on school security procedures, potential stranger abductions from a school, student “walk-aways,” and related issues.

Oftentimes, our conversations on these issues end up  on one of the most important aspects of school safety:  Supervision, supervision supervision.

Are there any supervision and/or security gaps at your elementary schools?

Ken Trump

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