Violent crime is a serious problem for schools in the United States and improving security measures is always a hot topic among concerned administrators and teachers alike. According to preliminary data presented by the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 33 school-associated violent deaths from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010. During that 2009-2010 school year, about 74 percent of schools reported one or more violent crimes. In 2010, about 470,000 people at schools were victims of theft and 359,000 victims of violent crimes, including simple assault and serious violence. Included below are a few resources and programs that can be put in place to help address these issues.
Improved school safety and security doesn’t have to cost huge amounts in capital improvements. Although financial resources can have an affect on the safety environment of our schools, there is not always a direct correlation between the two. Starting with the most economical means of reducing risks, such as trimming overgrown bushes and involving parent volunteers, can make a drastic difference. NBC News recently reported the fascinating results seen by big city schools through the implementation of a new social program.
Prevention is worth a pound of cure. Historically, the most effective way to prevent violence, drugs, teen pregnancy, bullying and more is through school administration gaining an in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of the student body. When students feel invisible, they will go to any limit to get attention — even negative attention. Positive reinforcement can change the entire culture of a school and the community in which it is located.
Physical Security Improvements
While homicides are rare in schools, high profile school massacres like Sandy Hook and Columbine and the constant stress of non-lethal violence in schools makes it hard for students and teachers to maintain a learning environment that fosters true academic growth. In a 2011 survey presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.8 percent of respondents in grades 9 through 12 said they did not go to school on one or more days in the previous month because they felt unsafe.
Schools are taking increasingly assertive measures to give students, teachers, staff, and visitors a sense of security. A well-rounded approach to school security should include:
- Security Assessments
- Security Officers (Uniformed, Armed and Unarmed)
- Campus Patrol and Mobile Patrol
- Video Surveillance
- Emergency Response Services
- Special Event Services
These security measures focus on keeping intruders out and deterring violent behavior of the people inside a school. A proper security assessment helps school administrators determine the best security tools for that particular institution. A rural elementary school, for example, would not need the armed security officers and mobile patrol services necessary at a large university in an urban setting. Having a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan can drastically improve the safety of students and teachers.
Almost all schools can improve security with well-placed video surveillance cameras and restricting access to campus grounds. Approximately 84 percent of high schools, 73 percent of middle schools, and 51 percent of primary schools reported using security cameras. More than 91 percent of institutions now control access during school hours by locking and monitoring doors and gates.
Plan, Practice, and Publicize
Having a defined, written, and practiced policy in place is incredibly crucial in the improvement of school safety. A policy that defines what behaviors are acceptable or not acceptable in a school helps prevent crisis from occurring. Training faculty and staff on how to defuse potentially violent situations, promoting parent participation, and outlining procedures for crises management, can all contribute to the overall success of an educational system.
School administrators considering an increase in security should contact a professional security company with a proven track record of success. A quality security company should incorporate state-of-the-art technology and many years experience into a personalized security solution that provides the highest level of protection possible.
What do you think? What security measures would you like to see implemented in our school systems?