As summer heats up, so does school security as some campuses across the nation are taking this time to brush up on safety by installing tools such as video cameras and access control mechanisms; hiring security guards for the upcoming school year; training staff on emergency drills, like active shooters; and getting minor repairs done to already-installed security equipment. All this despite the fact that school violence has declined in the last couple of decades.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the rate of violent incidents per 1,000 students in 2013-14 was:
- 13.5 in elementary schools;
- 23.6 in middle schools; and
- 14.3 in high schools.
But, during the 2009-10 school year, the last year in which there is such data, there was:
- 21 in elementary schools;
- 40 in middle schools; and
- 21 in high schools.
As you can clearly see a decline in the numbers, currently:
- 9 out of 10 schools have a written plan for how to handle a shooting;
- 7 out of 10 schools have drilled and continue to drill students on active shooter scenarios; and
- ¾ of schools in the U.S. use cameras and some have even installed bullet-proof glass.
So, why all the costly security measures even though statistically they seem unnecessary and schools are already cash-strapped?
After the Sandy Hook incident, everyone was left reeling, prompting most schools to install cameras or even hire security guards. Basically, anything to step-up their security. But, why? Remember that time? Well, the nation, and world for that matter, was gripped by dominating media coverage for weeks of the isolated incident, despite the fact that school shootings are rare, especially ones of this magnitude.
I’m not suggesting that school security isn’t necessary; however, I am saying that due to the Sandy Hook incident, we have seen items, such as Kevlar backpacks, come on the scene. Schools with already tight budgets suddenly found money for fencing, to post warning signs and even install video cameras. Even the way in which society defined “school safety” took a hard left to be redefined as “school security.”
Maybe the answer is to use all the security products deployed in schools to deter violence, recognizing that after a crisis it’s very easy to overreact.