Keeping Your School Safe: Security Issues in Light of Tragedy
Vol. 14 No. 8
On April 21, a 16-year-old lost her life after a fight (allegedly over a boy) in the girls’ bathroom of a public school in Wilmington, Delaware. Rev. Sandra Ben of Pray Ground Community Church told the Delaware News Journal, “We know [violence] is happening in the streets. But now we are talking about violence happening in a place that normally should be a safe haven.”
In light of this tragic incident resulting in a student’s death, take measures to ensure your students’ continued safety on your school campus—and not all of them require money to be spent on facilities or security guards.
- Encourage an (effective) anti-bullying campaign to be run by your school’s Division Head and School Head, to prevent groups of bystanders becoming active participants in inter-student violence on your campus.
- Invite trainers to teach all school employees how to handle violence—physical, mental, and digital—between students, to ensure that damage is minimized during these conflicts.
- Cultivate a relationship with your community’s first-responders so when disaster strikes, communications between key stakeholders can occur quickly and without confusion.
- Revise current policy to proactively address the consequences of bullying for both the aggressor and the victim. Be sure this policy requires administrators to account for both “sides” to the story before meting out punishment.
- While security cameras cannot legally be placed inside bathrooms—where the recent school assault took place—installing a visible camera security system can deter future incidents on school grounds. To avoid these cameras pushing fights into spaces that aren’t sufficiently monitored by recording equipment, consider stationing faculty members or security guards in or near relatively private areas during the school day when class is out of session (i.e., morning homeroom and after final bell) as a deterrent.
- Consider the installation of a “blue light” emergency notification system similar to that found on college campuses at “vulnerable” areas where harassment could take place (e.g., parking lots or locker rooms). In this way, you can maintain the inherent privacy of your facilities while permitting those in trouble to contact help in case of emergency.
No one knows if any of these security measures could have saved the life of that young high school student. However, it’s your school’s responsibility to be proactive in its prevention and response to security threats—even if those threats sometimes come from the students themselves.
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 25 No. 16 The School Safety and Security Committee