Public School Safety vs. Private School Safety

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Is One Safer Than the Other?

public schoolPublic school or private school? Which is safer? Many parents wish of sending their children to private school where class sizes are smaller, books are newer, and the focus is on more than test scores. But is private school any safer than public school? Many people believe private schools are safer and more secure for their children than public schools; however, some studies have shown that private schools do not put as much funding toward safety and security, creating a less safe environment and giving people a false hope.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics*, in 2011-2012 57.6% of secondary public schools in the U.S. had a daily presence of police or security personnel, while only 19.2% of private secondary schools had security presence. When considering emergency preparedness and the ability to respond quickly to emergencies, having police or security personnel on campus provides an added layer of preparedness and enables a more rapid response.  A 30+% difference in the overall security presence at a secondary school, where many incidents take place, is a consideration to make when deciding on a school to send your children to. Many times, state and local funding and grants make it possible for school resource officers or other security personnel to work at public schools, while security at private schools come out of students’ tuition.

In the same study*, reports show that 83.9% of public schools controlled access to buildings by locked or monitored doors during school hours. For private secondary schools, that percent drops to 71.5%. Locking school doors and monitoring who accesses them is a critical safety aspect that most public schools across the country have adopted. Creating a barrier between students and those who wish harm has proven to be a very effective form of security.

“Only 1% of students at private schools reported avoiding areas for fear of attack or harm”

On the flip side, private schools do have a decreased percentage of incidents reported by students. In 2014, a joint report titled Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2014 was compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education**. It found that students who attend private school have less fear of attack or harm at school than their public school counterparts. 3.9% of public school students, ages 12-18 report avoiding one or more places in school because of fear of attack or harm. When private school students were polled, only 1% of students reported avoiding areas for fear of attack or harm. There may be a direct correlation between the amount of security needed, for the amount of crime and incidents that happen at public schools and private schools, but safety should always be a top priority for students and staff.

These are only a few areas which have been studied over the past few decades that compare various safety aspects for public schools and private schools. We can tell from study results that schools around the country are working to improve security, but the way different types of schools are funded has a large impact on upgrades and changes that are made. It is hard to say whether one is safer than the other, but being informed about types of security which is utilized and the incident rate is critical to putting children in safe environments.

*https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_233.50.asp

**http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2015/2015072.pdf

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