School Safety Article Review
How Numbers Are Looking Up and Down in Terms of School Safety
An older news headline recently grabbed my attention, “Schools Ratchet Up Safety Protocol, But Some Lack Basic Infrastructure.” In it the author, Allie Bidwell, writes about how school safety statistics are on the rise, but a startling number still lack some of the key points that many expect to see in schools such as controlled access points, visitor check in, and manned surveillance cameras. She also touches on an important point in the beginning, leadership that is invested.
The very beginning of this article starts out with the biggest point of all, the leadership must be invested in school safety to really make safe schools a reality. Ms. Bidwell brings up a then recent news story in which a loaded gun was found in a student’s locker, only because a concerned teacher overheard a conversation and was invested enough to move on information they had heard. The story says the teacher immediately took the student to school administrators and a search of the students’ locker yielded a loaded gun. A security camera or metal detector did not alert school officials, instead it was a concerned human that was in tune with their surroundings and was invested in their job as a safety ambassador and a steward of knowledge to students.
The article could’ve ended there and left the message of how important it is to be invested in safety and security and be aware of your surroundings all the time; however, the author goes on to report interesting information and statistics that prove the title to be true. The author stated that since the 2011-12 school year, schools have seen a 5% increase in controlled access points, bringing the total percentage to 93% for public schools across the country. And, “nationwide, 88% of schools have written plans for how to respond to active shooting incidents, and most (70%) drill students on those procedures.” These all sound great, especially for parents sending their children to school every day. But, not all schools are operating on the same level.
According to the article, “fewer than half of schools (47%) have an anonymous threat-reporting system, and about a quarter do not provide walkie-talkies to staff, for instance. Other schools don’t have classroom doors that lock from the inside…” Replacing locks on older school doors is costly and sometimes the finances are not there to provide that option. Others don’t have the resources to implement such costly equipment, even if it is in the name of school safety.
Finally, the author discusses another aspect that is often in the forefront of our minds and is perhaps the most cost effective solution, training. She says, “despite the need for school personnel to be aware of potential threats, the federal data show still one-third of schools do not provide training on discipline policies and practices related to violence, and fewer than half train classroom teachers and aides to recognize early warning signs of students likely to be violent.” Training is something we talk about a lot, because it is a simple and cost effective way to reduce risk and teach key personnel what to look for to increase safety for their facility, in this case schools. As most schools work to implement new technologies to make school safety a priority, others are way behind the ball to even start offering critical training to avoid ever-growing safety threats.
Some of these statistics are shocking to see how far behind some of our public schools are, even with the abundance of technologies we have available to us. I understand that some of it in part is due to budgeting restrictions, or grant allocations, but there are affordable options out there for schools to use to increase their safety and their response time to emergencies, such as Rapid Responder, an affordable technology built from the initial school shooting of Columbine High School. Although some of these numbers and an increase in some areas are an improvement, it also plainly shows what resources are being allocated to and where more improvements can be made.