School Security in Today’s Environment

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I’ve been really concerned lately about school security. It seems like every shooting is getting worse. I live in Florida, so the Stoneman Douglas shooting really hit close to home. I don’t want to get into a political argument regarding the second amendment or what the government can or should be doing or not doing; however, I do think it is important to review current security procedures. I’m an education major, so I know this will be something I should be up-to-speed on. I want to know how we, as college or high school students, can protect ourselves and what our schools and universities can do to increase awareness and protection.

The implementation and effectiveness of school security is a topic that has gained national attention in the last few years. Between 2010 and 2014, there were a total of 94 reported incidents regarding firearms in schools nationwide. Fifteen of those incidents occurred in Florida. Since 2015, there have been 67 additional incidents reported, five of which took place in Florida. In total, 175 people lost their lives in school incidents involving firearms. Therefore, we can understand your concern for safety. It seems as if every month we wake up to news of school shootings. Given the rise in occurrences, schools have implemented security measures to prevent such incidents. Additionally, private organizations have begun to develop and implement technologies and techniques to aid in school safety.  

In general, many schools are improving security by developing and implementing security practices. Some ideas are as simple as limiting access to the school by redirecting visitor traffic toward a single entrance. Regarding small schools, this may be a significant improvement; however, campuses with multiple buildings may have more difficulty securing all entrances. Other schools are installing video surveillance to cover the entire premises. Such surveillance allows school officials to monitor activity in all zones. Another area where school officials can improve security is by improving or upgrading their crisis plan and preparation. The plans and preparations guide should cover lockdowns, evacuations, and communication protocols.

As a teacher or school administrator, you’ll probably go through security training. Colleges and schools are also using local officers, police, and security guards to create the presence of authorities and to improve the reaction time should incidents occur on campus. However, as was witnessed in theStoneman Douglas shooting, a police presence may not necessarily prevent or improve reaction time. School officials, professors, parents, students, school police officers, security guards, and others should all be trained on the school security protocols and on how to react to confrontations. With such training, all parties involved with safety will understand the expectations and responses. Schools and universities can also consider enterprise security risk management (ESRM) solutions. Such tools provide decision makers with actionable risk assessments and threat intelligence that can assist in mitigating threats.

Your students should also be part of the safety procedures. For example, schools should provide a reporting system where students are encouraged to speak up and communicate information that may prevent such tragedies. These reporting systems need to be anonymous to encourage students to share information that may be embarrassing or compromising. Furthermore, school officials need to review information supplied by students and act on actionable information. The review and reaction to such information needs to be part of the safety practices that schools establish.

All parties involved in school need to be part of the security process. Students, parents, and professors alike, among others, need to be vigilant and report suspicious activity. Furthermore, officials need to develop and implement protocols and train all individuals so that proper reactions are achieved. Schools should also review and update security plans periodically and incorporate any new technologies or techniques designed to keep everyone safe.

“Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest is being a good teacher.” — Maggie Gallagher