Your School’s Security

Vol. 11 No. 5


Since the tragedy last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School, our nation’s schools and government have been discussing new policies for protecting schools. Stricter gun laws, armed guards on campus, proposed gun/shooting classes—these are circulating topics of discussion. Surely, your Board, Head, key administrators, and yourself have taken a fresh look at your school’s risk management policies over the past few weeks, comparing your school’s standards to how other schools are securing their students and faculty.

What protocols do you have in place? How can you make your school more secure? How does your school’s mission align with the circulating conversations? These are just some of the questions you and your risk management committee might have asked in the process of evaluating your security systems.

Hanover Research recently surveyed schools and districts about their current safety practices. The following information is taken from the report.

Key Findings

As reported in the National Center for Education Statistics’ most recent School Survey on Crime and Safety, the most common types of security measures at all levels of schooling are locked buildings (92% of all schools), requirements for faculty and staff to wear ID badges (63%), video surveillance cameras (61%), and electronic notification systems (63%). Larger schools are more likely than smaller schools to control access to grounds during school hours, require students to wear badges or picture IDs, use random or daily metal detectors on students, and use security cameras for monitoring. Additionally, the use of many of these security measures has markedly increased since 1999.

According to the NCES, nearly 70% of middle and high school students attend a school that has at least one security guard or assigned police officer, up from 54% in 1999. The New York Times also reports that approximately one-third of public schools have an armed security guard. Policies regarding armed security vary by district: some districts arm their own school resource officers while others bring in local law enforcement personnel.

The effects of personnel-based security appear to be largely dependent on the circumstances of a school or district. Some studies have found that campus security guards are associated with reduced school violence, while others have found that security personnel are ineffective at preventing violence for various reasons.

Similarly, there is no agreement in the literature regarding the effects of access control systems and other physical barriers. Overall, however, it appears that if a district has the finances to obtain security devices and the personnel to operate them, barriers such as metal detectors, video cameras, and access control systems can serve as effective deterrents for school violence.

Among the “best practice” districts featured in this report, districts utilize a variety of safety tactics including armed or unarmed security guards, camera systems, access-control systems with visitor background checks, and picture IDs for staff, among others.

Related links:
Tragedy at Sandy Hook
Sandy Hook Panel Begins Work on Newtown Tragedy

Additional ISM resources of interest:
ISM Monthly Update for Business Officers Vol. 11 No. 4 After a Tragedy
ISM Monthly Update for Risk Managers Vol. 3 No. 4 Newtown School and Your School
ISM Monthly Update for Risk Managers Vol. 3 No. 3 Four-Team Approach for Creating and Maintaining a Crisis Plan
ISM Monthly Update for Risk Managers Vol. 3 No. 1 Building a Risk Management Team (RMT)

Additional ISM resources of interest for Consortium Gold members:
I&P Vol. 35 No. 12 Does Your Crisis Plan Really Protect Your Students (and School)?
I&P Vol. 35 No. 14 Developing Your Business Continuation Plan

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