Public school systems are finding greater security challenges as budget concerns rise along with an increase in violence in schools. This can significantly impact a school districts ability to improve security. School districts must develop low-cost security measures. There are several ways to accomplish this goal.
Improve Student-Teacher Communication
Most of the violent acts that have been committed on school grounds were known by many students who had knowledge of the upcoming event. Improving communication and trust between students and teachers can improve security. Many students are afraid to speak out against their peers. Identifying ways to improve communication might be the answer. Developing a rewards program for tips by setting up a special tips hotline is one possible solution. You could also create anonymous tip boxes located throughout the school. You can find ways to communicate to students the importance of sharing potential threatening information. Develop helpful brochures that offer information about the dangers of school violence. Informative brochures about the dangers of bullying should also be developed. Bullying has become a significant problem in school districts around the nation.
Keep Parents Informed
Parents should be informed of security issues or violence problems found in their school district. If parents are made more aware of the issues the district faces, they are more likely to want to become involved. Community involvement regarding school district issues can lead to an improvement in security issues. If school budgets are an issue, community involvement can help. Every parent wants to send their child to a safe and secure school environment. Develop regular community meetings that inform the community about any potential security problems. Many school districts also form an alliance with their local law enforcement agency. This alliance can improve communication between students and local law enforcement. Educating students about the importance of school safety can lead to an improvement in security.
Install Security Cameras Throughout Campuses
A good way to send a message to students and parents about school safety issues is to install security cameras on every campus. The presence of security cameras will record events that can lead to the arrest of the students involved. Security footage can also be used as a tool to improve school security. Key areas that should be monitored include parking lots, hallways and lunchrooms. These are the areas where violence is most likely to occur. Of course, it is impossible to monitor every inch of every campus, but monitoring key areas can help improve security. Security cameras remain an important part of a school security plan. If your school district is large enough, you might consider having the key areas monitored by a professional security company. You will receive live notifications if there is a security threat or issue.
It is important to reduce the amount of traffic that is allowed inside the school during school hours. Keep the doors of the school locked and secured while students are learning. Monitor visitors by developing a check point that doesn’t allow them access to classrooms without first visiting the office. Require visitors to wear a badge that identifies them as a visitor and not faculty or staff. Many school districts have been doing this successfully for years. Reducing the amount of school traffic will help teachers and staff notice suspicious behaviors. Set firm guidelines that visitors must follow at all times.
Develop an Action Team
Developing an action team can improve response times and effectively work towards gaining control of a security issue as it occurs. The team members should have specific tasks they are responsible for during a crisis. The action team should also be ready for other emergencies such as inclement weather or any event that requires the team to stay in control of the situation. Practicing drills will help everyone on the team improve their response times. The action team must be prepared to handle a variety of emergency situations. Work with local law enforcement agencies to create an effective action team. The action team should also be responsible for identifying security issues and concerns within the school district. Evaluate your security plan and measure its success regularly. Hire a professional security auditor to help develop your security plan. A security auditor can help you identify common problems school districts face.
Teen Issues And Concerns
Improving the security in a middle or high school presents different challenges than an elementary school. There is the possible illegal drugs issues as well as potential violence issues. Consider installing metal detectors at the entry points in high schools. Metal detectors can prevent a student from bring unwanted weapons to school. Create a take-home brochure for parents about the importance of gun safety. Many times students live in a home with guns that are not locked up properly. Reducing the students ability to retrieve their parent’s weapons can help reduce security risks.
Illegal drugs are a concern in most public high schools across the nation. Illegal drugs cause many problems between students and teachers. Develop a plan to reduce illegal drug activities that involve parents, students and teachers. Ask your local law enforcement agency for tips and advice. Many times law enforcement will search a high school for illegal drugs using their drug unit canines. If students know they are subject to regular drug searches, then the drug problem can be reduced. Illegal drugs also cause students to act irrationally which can harm other students.
Hire School Resource Officers
Many high schools have school resource officers in place that are commissioned police officers. These highly trained officers can significantly reduce security issues. Not all communities can afford to utilize these officers, but they can hire armed security guards. Armed security guards are trained to react to security threats. They are certified and approved to carry a weapon. They have spent hours training at gun ranges and security guard training facilities. Consider hiring a professional security company if your school district is operating on limited security funds.
Student Safety Outside The Classroom
Develop informative brochures that educate students about the dangers of walking or riding their bicycles to school. Student security does not just involve the time they are in the classroom. It also involves making sure students understand the dangers when walking or riding their bicycles to school. Stranger danger information should be presented in a manner that is most comfortable for everyone. You don’t want to scare students, but informing them of stranger dangers is a real issue. Most parents tell their children not to go anywhere with people they don’t know. However, students should also be aware that strangers include people they don’t know very well. Some confusion could exist between complete strangers and a casual acquaintance.
Develop An Emergency Plan Students Understand
It is important that an emergency plan is developed and practiced with every student and faculty member. There are a number of emergencies that could arise in a school including flooding, tornadoes or security issues. Students should be familiar with the emergency exits in every area of the school. They need to know exactly what to do, if an emergency arises. Create an emergency plan that is easy to understand. Identify the different kinds of emergencies and the appropriate responses to each one. If students and teachers know what to do, there will be less chaos during an emergency. Students and faculty members must remain calm during any type of emergency. The important thing to remember when developing an emergency plan is that preparation can reduce confusion and stress.
A security audit from a law enforcement agency or professional security company will help your school identify unknown risk factors. It is much easier for someone that is trained in law enforcement or security issues to recognize weak security points. Consider hiring a security auditor at least once each year. The security auditor can review the security plans and determine which areas need improvement. Limiting access into the school building by installing security sensors on doors and windows can reduce access. A professional security company can install audible alarms on doors and windows to discourage possible intrusion after school hours. The outside of the school grounds should be well-lit at night. Installing motion detecting solar lights can reduce the energy bills. Motion detecting security cameras can also be installed that produces images even in low-light conditions. School security equipment should be maintained and inspected on a regular basis.
Emergency Management Training
There are several ways that school districts can use low-cost training methods to prepare school faculty for emergency management. The local Red Cross offers low-cost courses on how to effectively plan for emergencies. You may also find the local law enforcement or fire department can also help with training. Basic emergency training should include basic first aid and CPR. You may want to train only your action team on these types of medical training. Most schools have a nurse assigned, but during an emergency it is important that students have access to basic medical care. Emergency management training courses are found in almost every community. Rural areas may not have convenient access to medical care.
Reporting Security Issues
Every school district should monitor their security issues by documenting the facts. This data can be reviewed to help improve the level of security. There are software programs available that can make this job much easier. Incidents should be documented and reviewed by key personnel. The facts should be recorded swiftly and accurately. Develop a partnership between county courts and local law enforcement to report incidents that occurred as a result of a student’s behavior. The school district should report criminal incidents that occur inside the school. This partnership can help schools prepare an effective security system. Security events that are not criminal should be recorded by the designated security professional.
Supervising Students in the Hallways
Every school district should require teachers to be visible in school hallways during student classroom changes. When students leave one classroom and go to another one, students are usually unsupervised. The presence of teachers in the hallways could reduce the incidents of mischief that occurs during this time. Security cameras can monitor the traffic, but the presence of teachers can improve the level of security. Teachers should be able to text information to the school’s principal or security contact person, should an incident occur. Some schools use portable communication devices. This is a great way to report incidents as they occur.
Keeping Schools Safe
Reviewing the school security plan and analyzing data can significantly improve your schools security program. Effective communication between students, parents and teachers will also improve security. The security plans should be reviewed annually to be sure they are still effective. The reporting of incidents and analyzing information can help your school district improve upon the security plans. Maintaining safe schools is everyone’s responsibility. The combined use of security devices, access control and the development of an action team will help prepare your school for most emergencies. It is impossible to completely remove all security risks, but being proactive and getting involved can make a difference
Many school districts are constantly striving to improve their security policies. Being aware of possible security issues through improved communication with students will also help. Students need to be able to trust school authorities to provide for their safety. Make students aware of the need to open the lines of communication between students and teachers. Many students may be aware of a particular security threat and they should know they can report the threat without being fearful.
Schools should be a place of learning and not a security threat. Develop student awareness about the dangers of bullying on social media sites. Many students are being bullied on social media sites and it is important to open the lines of communication regarding this issue. Learn about social media threats by creating an open communication environment between students and teachers. A secure environment takes the efforts of many people to create safer schools within the community. Contact us today to learn more about how to deal with school security challenges.