Security in Schools has been in the headlines in recent years due to incidents of high-profile school gun violence and bullying. The news has also reported a resurgence of drug activity on campus especially with new designer drugs. This wave of drugs and violence has brought our school system under intense scrutiny. Critics have found many of our nation’s schools to have abysmal security systems in place to protect our children from harm.
Like any other enterprise, it is easy to criticize a system after being viewed under a microscope and when reviewing facts in hindsight.
School Security is Easy
Aside from prison or mental health facilities, a school campus is unlike any other public institution in terms of control. Administrators have so much control over the campus environment that providing security is relatively easy compared to most other commercial properties. A school has control over who accesses the campus and when. A school controls the timing of class periods and which students attend each class. A school controls the level of supervision throughout the day.
A school establishes strict rules of conduct and for attendance. A school can mandate the use of metal detectors and can conduct bag, backpack, and locker searches at will. A school can control vehicle access and in some cases search vehicles parked on campus.
A school can administer discipline for misconduct including temporary suspension and permanent expulsion from campus.
Practically speaking, once the first period bell rings no student should be outside of the class roaming the hallways without authorization. Since class attendance is required to be taken each period, it is a simple matter to detect and eliminate the non-students outside.
If a student is truant, acts up, or violates a school rule the prescribed amount of discipline should be swiftly, fairly, and evenly applied.
The majority of my school surveys concluded that poor campus security is affected most by administrators failing to consistently enforce school rules with the tools already available to them.
Schools are a Unique Challenge
As an outside consultant I can say school security is easy. However, I am aware that the day-to-day experiences of teachers and staff are a challenge. If you think about it, elementary and high schools contain mostly children under the age of 18 years. As children grow so do their behavioral and emotional problems and schools often become a dumping ground for undiagnosed and untreated students.
These problems can manifest itself as depression, lack of social skills, mischief or serious violence at school. As children enter their teens, behavior problems seem to either subside or intensify. Some teachers have actually told me that they are afraid of some of their students. Teachers and administrators must have extreme amounts of patience and understanding to deal with daily misconduct especially with morally bankrupt students and uncaring parents.
Some schools are further challenged by meager budgets and conflicting district discipline enforcement policies.