Tips for Addressing the Critical Needs in School Security
The first responsibility of every school district is to ensure a safe and secure environment for students, staff, and visitors. Today, that responsibility is more serious than ever with growing threats such as violence, drugs, bullying, crime, natural disaster, and even terrorism from within and without. Is your school ready?
According to the most recent statistics from the National Center for Educational Statistics Institute of Education Sciences, about 15 percent of U.S fourth graders and 7 percent of eighth-graders reported experiencing bullying at least once a month. A total of 48 student, staff, and non-student school-associated violent deaths occurred between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, which included 26 homicides, 20 suicides, 1 legal intervention death, and 1 undetermined violent death. Of these 48 school-associated violent deaths, 12 homicides and 8 suicides were of school-age youth (ages 5–18;).
Fortunately, by utilizing powerfully effective technologies and putting smart security and emergency practices in place, schools can significantly improve their safety and security. Here are some top tips for addressing school security needs.
Get a Professional Security Evaluation
The National Association of Independent Schools states that security evaluations are based on the foreseeability of a crime and should always be conducted by an outside security professional. A professional can evaluate your risks, identify weaknesses, and help you address those problems with the most appropriate security measures and technologies.
Enhance Current Security Solutions with Centrally Monitored Systems
As the demand for physical security on school campuses increases, the need for a more effective way to manage those systems also increases. Many educational institutions find that while a security solution may meet the security goal, it is so expansive that monitoring multiple systems is inefficient at best, which ultimately can compromise security.
To solve this problem, many educational institutions are opting in to centrally monitored systems which provide a unified command center which ties all of the security systems, such as physical security, access control, video surveillance, and visitor management together. This also offers tremendous advantage in increased mobile control across multiple buildings and campuses and helps in such things as broadcasting mass notification, initiating lockdowns, tripping panic buttons, and controlling visitor access.
Use Access Control
The school should be fenced and gated. Use access control such as a keypad to control access to all critical areas. By using access control you can control levels of access according to personnel, track movements of personnel, visitors, and students; immediately change or restrict access, prevent unauthorized access through loss or duplication of keys, prevent theft, and more. One of the most successful and powerful ways of preventing crisis is by preventing the threat from entering the building.
Implement Video Surveillance
Cover all areas of the school with video surveillance so that all activity can be captured. Video cameras also serve as a visible deterrence. The National Center for Education Statistics also reports, in the 2013-14 school year, an average of 75 percent of public schools reported using security cameras to monitor their buildings. The years following the 2012 Sandy Hook incident saw a decrease in crime in schools and perhaps not at all incidentally a dramatic increase in schools implementing video surveillance. The NCES reports ¾ of all schools now use video surveillance.
Tie-in Security to Other Enabled Systems
Educational facilities are all widely embracing IP enabled systems, such as energy management, HVAC, and lighting. Make the most of all your connected systems by connecting them all to your central command platform.
Have a Security Plan in Place and Practice It
Develop a security protocol and practice implementing it in regular drills. Have specific protocols for different threats as well as different options, such as escape or sheltering in place. Also after Sandy Hook, 88% of schools had a written plan of how to respond to an active shooter and other emergencies which implement the use of security systems and measures including access control, video surveillance, and mass notification.
While our education system as a whole has made steps to improve school safety, it is important to reevaluate the needs frequently as security technologies rapidly advance. With these technological advances come huge advantage in improving the overall safety in our schools.
If you’d like more information on how to improve your school security, give ATS a call today! 414-476-4200