Are the nation’s children as safe as they can be? Every parent wants to believe that when their kids go to school each day, they will return home safe and sound. In the wake of increasing violence and crime in many areas of the U.S., the nation is asking whether today’s security in schools is sufficient.
Implementing new, modern school security measures doesn’t have to ruin a school’s youthful atmosphere or take away from the learning experience. With security for schools becoming a priority across the nation, here’s what principals need to know about public school security.
Why is School Safety Important?
Contrary to popular belief, the issue of public school safety is not overblown in the media and the sole preserve of concerned helicopter parents. Surveys increasingly show students themselves are worried about school security. This represents a serious problem because schools are designed to foster a safe environment and encourage creative and social learning. If a school is unable to create an environment where everyone feels safe, students are unlikely to feel comfortable at school.
When these basic needs aren’t met, students are more likely to perform poorly not only academically, but socially as well. Security is essential for children of all ages. In an increasingly dangerous world, school principals across the country must act to ensure students gain access to the safe and secure learning environment they need.
The State of School Safety: 2021 Statistics
Some believe that security in schools has been overblown by anxious helicopter parents. School security statistics tell a different story. They reveal that students are feeling increasingly unsafe, and this is leading to poorer learning outcomes. Here are some of the latest school safety statistics during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- 10 school shootings across the nation
- 264,000 Asian Americans were victims of racism in California alone
- 74% of elementary and high school parents believe schools are less safe
- 85% of violent incidents in schools were perpetrated by students
- Gun violence affects three million students per year
Add all the usual potential stress factors together with concerns over school security measures, and 45% of high school students report feeling stressed “all or most of the time.” Lack of student well-being has grown into a nationwide epidemic, and it’s clear that schools need to act in the interests of their charges.
Does Security in School Need to Be Improved?
It’s clear that the current state of affairs within schools is unsustainable and is directly contributing to a poorer, less successful America. Children who are victims or who witness violent acts are more likely to become involved in drugs and general delinquency at a later age.
Much of the media’s focus on security in schools has focused on school shootings, but the majority of violence isn’t related to firearms. Approximately 47% of recorded threats of violence in the 2018-2019 school year were of an unspecified nature, with 60% of juvenile arrests for arson involving students under the age of 15.
But what is the solution?
It’s obvious that the education system alone is unable to protect against all threats. Although teachers have lobbied for additional programs for disruptive students and more funding to deal with violence in their schools, districts need to invest in additional security measures.
Although many decry having to install school security checkpoints or lock their doors during school hours, the modern world is dangerous. Things have to change in order to keep our children safe.
How Can You Improve Your School’s Security?
Some people say that arming teachers with concealed weapons is the answer to concerns around security in schools. However, 63% of teachers strongly oppose this, and it’s likely only a solution to a small part of the problem. Many believe that it will only introduce more gun violence.
Thankfully, principals have numerous options at their disposal to not only increase material security but to make students feel safe and comfortable when going to school.
Here are some best practices for improving school security:
1. Implement Security Cameras
Security cameras are an extremely powerful tool for making students feel safe. These should be positioned in classrooms, corridors, and outdoor areas. Although cameras will never deter every act of violence or hateful word, they provide vital pieces of evidence in the event a situation escalates later. Modern commercial security camera systems don’t have to be expensive and can be monitored remotely via mobile devices.
2. Install Metal Detectors in Schools
Weapons in schools have become an increasingly common problem nationwide in recent years. Installing metal detectors may help detect the presence of bladed weapons and firearms before they can be taken into the classroom. But, how many schools have metal detectors right now?
It’s estimated only one in 10 schools nationwide uses metal detectors. The majority of these schools are located in highly urbanized areas where violence with weapons remains a serious problem. Although metal detectors can be expensive and require additional training to use and monitor, they can make it more difficult for serious threats to enter the premises.
3. Implementing ID Cards
Many parents’ biggest fear is an active shooter entering a school. Some criminals have been able to enter schools unchecked and unchallenged, particularly if they are in a similar age group to the student body.
One option for preventing this is installing school security checkpoints where students are required to show a special ID. These can be simple lanyards students are required to wear. If schools have room in their budgets, they may even want to include biometrics. This would reduce the chances of student IDs being faked and used to gain unauthorized access to school grounds.
4. Update School Emergency Preparedness Plans
All schools should have emergency preparedness plans. In the wake of school shootings like Sandy Hook, it’s estimated that 92% of schools now have a plan for what to do if an active shooter is detected.
Staff must be trained on how to detect potential threats and how to respond if a threat proves real. This requires specialized training courses and should involve refresher security meetings at least twice per year.
Schools must also collaborate with public safety officials and strengthen partnerships with these bodies. Principals play a vital role in bringing everyone together and conducting occasional drills to ensure both staff and students know what to do if an emergency occurs.
A comprehensive, cutting-edge emergency preparedness plan is not just important for tangible safety but to reassure parents and students that you’re taking the issue seriously.
5. Hire On-Site Security Staff
The presence of a security guard to man school security checkpoints and patrol the premises can have a big impact on student wellbeing. However, security staff must be trained and properly equipped to deal with threats. For this reason, schools should never rely on a member of the teaching staff to act as impromptu security.
Security guards are specialists who are trained to disarm and extinguish threats before violence occurs. It’s not always necessary for security guards to be armed, but they can be. The Guard Alliance provides both armed and unarmed security guards to manage security in schools.
Whether a school security guard is armed or not depends on the specific threats the school faces. Principals must take a careful look at whether an armed guard is a proportionate response to the threats of violence within their districts.
Take the Necessary Steps to Improve Security in Your School Today
It’s clear that public school safety is one of the biggest issues faced by the U.S. education system today. As school shootings increase, parents are becoming increasingly anxious about the safety of their children. You must do everything you can to enhance security in your academic institution. One of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve this is by hiring a permanent security guard from The Guard Alliance.
We specialize in providing highly-trained and highly-equipped security guards who will challenge, patrol, and reassure your students every day. They’re ready to deal with the latest threats while being both friendly and personable.