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Are children safe?

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A Chiefland Citizen editorial

By The Staff

There was a recent story that should have sent a little bit of anxiety through all the parents in Levy County.

The attempted kidnapping of two young boys from Joyce Bullock Elementary School in Williston recently points out how vulnerable our children can be. Joyce Bullock has fences around it, but it is a huge campus and it's impossible for the faculty to keep an eye on all children once school is dismissed.

Ultimately, the safety of children is a parent's responsibility, but all of us have trusted our children to the schools at one time or another.

What really bothered us was that the matter was not publicly discussed at a subsequent School Board meeting. There should have been a lot of questions asked by members of their own staff and the school's staff. There needs to be a public airing of what happened and what is being done to prevent it in the future, which raises the question of whether anything IS being done.

As it has done with other controversial issues, the board chooses to ignore it.

One thing which needs to be checked is the security around the schools, particularly those that educate the youngest members of the community. Are the fences enough? Do they really keep anyone out?

Police presence around the schools during morning entrance and afternoon dismissal should be encouraged, if not mandatory. And we're not talking about the police who are concerned with vehicles speeding through school zones. These should be officers specifically assigned to keep an eye on the youngsters themselves.

High school students are not as vulnerable, but still deserve protection. Right now the older high schools, particulary Chiefland and Williston, are on main highways and easily accessible to anyone.

Several years ago Chiefland got a grant for fencing, and used it to fence in the athletic fields. We wondered about that decision at the time, and are still a little perplexed about it.

So we ask the School Board to go public with what is being done to prevent another occurrence such as the one that happened at Joyce Bullock Elementary. The parents of Levy County deserve to know.