The Need for Enterprise Mobile Duress
Everyday violence often goes unaddressed
- By Don Commare
- Jul 01, 2014
When most people think of
school violence, they immediately
think of school shootings.
The media saturation that
covers these shootings makes
it unavoidable. however, school
shootings are only the most
extreme and rarest example
of school violence. Everyday
violence in K-12 schools goes
largely unaddressed and can
lead to catastrophic consequences
if intervention is not
A look at recent statistics reveals the rising
concern over increased violence in K-12 settings
and some of the probable causes:
- Bullying. A 2000 study from the U.S.
Secret Service found that two-thirds of
school shootings had been perpetrated by
students who had been bullied or persecuted
- Suicide and self-injury. Roughly 4,500
young people commit suicide every year;
this translates into 12 lives lost every day.
In fact, a 2012 study from the Archives of
Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found
that bullying more than doubled the risk
of suicidal thoughts. A second study that
compiled media reports of 41 high-profile
teen suicides found that 78 percent of
the teens had experienced bullying at
school. And, every year, some 149,000
young people receive medical care for
- Teacher attrition. Up to 80 percent of all
teachers report having been victimized at
least once in the previous year. While those
victimizations include harassment and
property crimes, a quarter of all teachers
describe being physically attacked. Not all
victimizations are committed by students,
either; one in five teachers report being
victimized by a parent.
When violence or bullying occurs at a
school, teachers are usually the first on the
scene. In fact, teachers are often the only
responders available. Fewer than half of all
schools have a registered nurse on staff, and
fewer than that have social workers, which is
recommended by No Child Left Behind.
And, though a student-to-psychologist ratio
of 1,000 to 1 is recommended by the National
Association of School Psychologists, the
average is more like 1,600 to 1. Likewise,
only one-third of all schools have armed
security staff onsite.
Noted psychologist and author Kathy Sexton-
Radek frames the issue perfectly: “With
more than one-third of the deaths of children,
adolescents and young adults resulting from
violence, intervention is essential.”
Therefore, intervention as events escalate can be more important
than the response once violence strikes. And, because teachers are
typically already present on the scene, they are often the only ones
situated to intervene during a crisis that is escalating toward violence.
Prevention Programs: Security as a Solution
Given what we know about the toll that violence and bullying takes on
students and staff, we have an obligation to do everything we can to
prevent these complex problems that have untold consequences on a
school as a whole. Practical measures for intervention include everything
from bullying prevention programs to funding to increased
One infrastructure option that schools are exploring is the panic
button, designed to allow teachers to summon response teams to
intervene when threats and/or escalating events are spotted. Teachers
are likely to be the first responders and if they are unable to effectively
deal with the situation on their own, they must have a clear way
to contact an intervention team composed of staff members trained in
dealing with violence in order to successfully manage a potentially
In the words of the Department of Education (DOE), a key component
of any crisis response plan must include an, “effective, fool-proof
communication system” for internal support as well as a “process for
securing immediate external support from law enforcement officials
and other relevant community agencies.”
The uncomfortable reality is that once violence has struck, most of the
options for dealing with it have already disappeared. So, the most effective
method for coping with violence is to intervene before it begins.
Enterprise Mobile Duress (EMD)
as a Security Solution
EMD provides a method for coordinating the delivery of alarms so that
the right information is delivered to the right responders. Additionally,
if some or all of those people are unavailable, delivery can then proceed
to others who are capable of dealing with the escalating event.
How EMD works. Once an enterprise mobile duress system is in
place, each teacher and staff member carries a wireless transmitter to
be activated in case of an emergency event. This could be when a
teacher or other staff member considers his or herself to be in imminent
danger, needs immediate assistance or becomes aware of a broader
Repeaters located throughout the building ensure that the signal is
carried to a receiver, which would disseminate the alarm to the
appropriate personnel, whether internal or external, who can
respond as needed.
The following three requirements are musts for a mobile duress
Reliability. As indicated by the DOE’s criteria of a “fool-proof communication
system,” there is no requirement for a mobile duress alarm
system more important than reliability. The wireless infrastructure of
any mobile duress alarm system must be able to withstand RF interference,
overcome obstacles due to construction and guarantee multiple
paths from the alarm device to the receiver. The importance of reliability
in life safety applications is impossible to overstate.
Adaptive notification. Due to the nature of emergency events in
K-12 schools, it is not sufficient that an alarm be sent only to a central
station or a single command center for the summoning of external
help. Systems must also be able to route alarms to internal response
teams. As such, alarm events must be able to be sent to a wide variety
of devices so that internal response can be immediate.
The devices that can receive alerts must be as broad as possible to
match the usage of individual recipients. These should include, but are
not be limited to: telephones or cell phones; using voice and text; pagers;
two-way radios; public address systems and email.
The system must also provide a method for coordinating the delivery
of alarms. Alarms must be delivered to the right people, and if
some or all of those people are unavailable, delivery must then proceed
to others able to deal with the emergency situation. Since different
people will be available at different times, the system must allow for
different alerting actions based on the time of day or day of the week.
Location. A mobile duress alarm system is of greatest use when it
provides the location of alarms, especially in a campus setting. This is
because teachers and staff are inherently mobile and the data clearly
shows that most everyday violence and bullying occurs in locations
away from the classroom, such as common areas or hallways.
Nobody knows the extent of everyday violence better than K-12
teachers and staff. The emergency events that occur on K-12 campuses
are as complicated as the student body itself. Everyday violence can
arise from a nearly infinite number of causes, even from a member of
the community who happens to be in contact with a school.
All too often teachers and staff are not just the first responders, but
the only responders. They must have the training and tools necessary
to keep themselves and their students safe. An
enterprise mobile duress solution can provide the
most critical component of a physical security system:
the ability for teachers to summon help where
it is needed, when it is needed.
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Security Today.