April 13, 2010
 

School Security on Madison Avenue?

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These days, you don't have to be Jackie Brown to feel the need to take matters into your own hands in order to protect the ones you love.

It's a natural instinct and as an industry, Madison Avenue has historically risen to crises such as the one we are now facing; protecting our children at school.

When the cause of Aids became clear, PSA's were created to inform people to use contraceptives. When drugs were (and still are) infesting our youth, we created the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. In simpler times, PSA's were created to promote physical fitness or Smokey the Bear-care for respect of our parks. We've educated children to look both ways when crossing the street and are now tyring half-heartedly to focus on the issue of obesity.

Now we are up against another important job; generating awareness to increase school security.

Up until now, the expression "trigger happy" referred to someone who was out of control and irresponsible with a gun.

However, what parent today would not feel better knowing there is a security guard standing in front of their child's school, ready to pull the trigger upon seeing some mad person approaching their kid's school with ridiculously sick intentions.

The events of 10/7, the date of the Amish School House Murders will live in school security infamy. It will change everything on every Avenue of every school in America. The question is, will it change anything on Madison Avenue?

Just the week before 10/7, the American Association of Advertising Agencies kicked off the week-long embarrassment to itself with none other than convicted felon, Martha Stewart!

Clearly there is no direct connection between the Lancaster County tragedy and Advertising Week. However, there is clearly a Six-Degree connection between them. Both were sick and perverse.

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It makes one wonder how distracted our business is from the community service it really is supposed to be doing. As opposed to bringing people together to take a serious look at real-life issues, we're baking cookies instead.

Are you a parent? Do you work on Madison Avenue? Are you doing anything about finding ways to add more security to your school? Should Madison Avenue and the media business focus on how to protect our children, in a most sacred, yet vulnerable institution? Of course, we should. Can we?

For years, inner city kids have been going through metal detectors each day and passing guards there who maintain security. Society has looked upon these factors as sad intrusions into what Americana considered our Norman Rockwell/Fast Times at Ridgemont High-esque view of education. Yet one could make the case today that these "kids at risk" are actually less at risk than kids at other schools who lack any kind of security on-campus to protect our kids in school.

"Maximum security" refers to convicted criminals behind bars, when it should refer to our children's environment when they are away from their parents and away from home, in school.

What will we do?

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The old joke about "what do you call 1,000 lawyers chained together on the bottom of the ocean? A good start!" definitely applies metaphorically to the "image-challenged" people at the 4A's, headed up by R. Burtch Drake.

It is time for Mr. Drake to resign. This is the second year we have called on him to do so. We originally asked him to in our column, The AAAA's Diversity Crash. Read it. It will explain why we thought so then. Hopefully the point made here makes the case for it now as well.

What will we do?

One of the best blogs we've seen on the connection between journalistic advocacy and school security is found on Jeff Jarvis's Buzz Machine. He made this suggestion: I would be eager to see hundreds of thousands of us contact our school districts today to find out the state of their security, in light of the latest rash of tragic murders in schools across the country. As I've discussed before, this act of reporting could also be an act of advocacy: The more we dog our school administrators, the more they know we are watching, the more diligent I hope they will be. This isn't about scoops; it's about being watchdogs.

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Stewart's Wikipedia bio refers to her as an American business magnate, convicted felon, entrepreneur, and homemaking advocate. Most of her professional attention, since her release from prison in March 2005 has been focused on reviving the fortunes of her business, which had suffered due to her litigation. We kid you not.

What will we do?

Asking Martha will only give us minimum security.

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