Florida School Officials Insist Campuses are Safe

Students and school officials around Florida are concerned and upset about Thursday's stabbing death of an Orlando High School student.

The tragedy is just the latest in a string of deadly incidents at schools around the country.

However, the numbers show schools in Florida are actually safer now than they were just a few years ago.

Many Florida schools now have high-tech background screening programs for campus visitors.

Senior Meagan Chestnut’s High School just practiced a full-blown lockdown drill so everyone would know what to do in a hostage situation.

Still, she doesn’t always feel safe, especially with all the recent violence in the news. She said, "It is scary and I’m not going to say that I’m not scared because I kind of am. You don’t even know what you can do to fix it."

A legislative effort to standardize anti-school bullying policies statewide failed to pass last year, but officials say they have pushed through several measures to make schools safer.

Many middle and high schools now have at least one resource officer patrolling the halls.

Zero tolerance policies and increased awareness have helped reduce reports of school violence by 35 percent over the past eight years as well.

However, last year alone there were nearly 11,000 reports of violence in Florida schools. State School Board President Wayne Blanton stresses schools are safe, but, "I think the other thing we’re going to do is put more and more emphasis on cameras, more fences around schools, the kinds of things we didn’t want to do, but society is changing. I think we need to do those kinds of things."

School officials say students themselves are the key to keeping schools safe. They need to feel comfortable speaking up if they think there is trouble.

The state legislature has appropriated more than $75 million dollars in recent years for school districts to enhance safety on campus.

Most districts also have anonymous tip lines for students to call if they think there could be trouble on campus.