Schools across the country face security problems every day just like major business complexes do. Still, school shootings persist and the media accentuates the violence that is happening across the country with a tale of “this can happen to your community” type message. What goes into school security? Are your children safe when they go to school? Here are some common security measures kids face every day.
Up until the Columbine High School shooting children were always assumed “safe” in the buildings they use to learn in. The media has no doubt heightened the problem of kids doing unspeakable things in schools and they jump at the coverage every time it happens. A school has to first and foremost control access. Back when I was in high school access control was unheard of. Now schools employ metal detectors, security cameras that watch entry points, and some even have guards that patrol regularly. These measures are not just meant to keep students from skipping class or catching the tardy ones. In 2011 and 2012 88% of public schools said they used some type of controlled access to their buildings to protect students.
Keeping Kids Safe
Higher percentages of public schools reported that they used other measures to increase security for their schools. Private schools are in general smaller in size and controlling students might be less of a challenge as a larger public school. Schools reported using security cameras, random drug and weapons dog sniffs by the authorities and some even banned backpacks. Some of these measures seem harsh or intrusive but they are evaluated by the crime statistics of the area the school is in. If the school is in a higher crime area then these types of security measures are usually put in place. However, Columbine was in a lower crime area so the method is not always foolproof. It’s all in what the local school board decides is what’s best for its schools.
Creating a culture of safety
The presence of security is always pleasing to the eyes of parents. Most feel their children are secure when they see cameras, guards, fences and a police presence. The best form of security is often the invisible one. A well trained staff and student body can react quicker than guards and cameras. Power in numbers is more efficient at reducing a threat than technology.
With all the attention the media gives to school shootings and tragedies they miss one main point, teaching parents and staff how to prevent such tragedies from occurring. While nothing is preventable having the knowledge and skills available to diffuse a situation like a school shooting is one thing all parents should ask their schools before sending them back for the start of the school year. Do your children and yourself a favor; ask your local school board what policies and practices they have in place for the security and safety of your children. You will get invaluable peace of mind knowing your school is prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.
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