Get out the horns and hats, it’s time to celebrate some good news. A recent article in Security Magazine provides some highlights of the 19th annual publication of the Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2016, produced jointly by the National Center for Education Statistics, in the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the U.S. Department of Justice. The report indicates that crime in our nation’s schools and on secondary education campuses has declined over the past two decades.
Yes, that is definitely good news, but for administrators in each school and in every community, it’s not good enough. There is still a child somewhere being hurt and that means that more must be done. However, before we move on to that, let’s take a moment to identify what is good and working. Today, as we look at this, there seems to be three legs to this stool:
No. 1 Greater Security – Schools are controlling access and implementing policies and procedures for entrances and exits. Strangers can no longer just walk in the doors. Parents, vendors, everyone must buzz-in and check-in. Most are required to wear identification badges to make everyone aware of their presence. Schools are also requiring employees to wear identification badges at all times and use proximity readers to get in and out of the buildings.
No. 2 Greater Awareness – Everyone, from students to parents and teachers understand the dangers and have seen the implications of violence in the school – in classrooms, gyms, and on the playground. Previously accepted behaviors are no longer considered a norm or acceptable. News of incidents and situations quickly spreads through the school and the community through digital means directly from schools, newsletters to the school community and even in the local media.
No. 3. Greater Education and Enforcement– Again, everyone who touches a school system is being educated as to not just what is happening, but what SHOULD be happening; what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Rules and policies are established and enforced. Many schools have a zero-tolerance policy for violence, weapons, drugs, and, in some cases, bullying in person and through technology.
Significant report findings
Bullying and peer victimization are serious negative behaviors and demand attention because that is often the catalyst for violence in the schools. It begins early in life with teasing and name-calling and escalates as the perpetrators and victims grow older.
Bullying and Peer Victimization
- In 2015, about 15 percent of U.S. fourth-graders and 7 percent of U.S. eighth-graders reported experiencing bullying at least once a month. These percentages were lower than international averages of 16 and 8 percent respectively;
- In the spring of 2014, about 15 percent of third-graders reported that they were frequently teased, made fun of, or called names by other students; 22 percent were frequently the subject of lies or untrue stories; 14 percent were frequently pushed, shoved, slapped, hit, or kicked; and 15 percent were frequently excluded from play on purpose; and
- Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of students reporting being bullied at school during the school year decreased from 28 to 21 percent.
- In 2015, there were 33 victimizations per 1,000 students (ages 12-18) at school. This was down from 181 victimizations per 1,000 students in 1992, a decline of 82 percent;
- A total of 12 of the 1,053 homicides of school-age youth between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 occurred at school. During the same period, there were 8 suicides of school-age youth at school, compared with 1,645 total suicides of school-age youth that occurred in calendar year 2013; and
- During the 2014-15 school year, there were 1, 500 reported firearm possession incidents at school in the United States, and the rate of firearm possess incidents was 3 per 100,000 students.
Although the data indicates a falling trend, it illustrates that negative behaviors, violence, or potential violence is still happening in the schools. Conzer Security is a partner with several schools to continue the battle to provide a safe and secure workplace and learning environment in communities. This is what we see in the field.
There are two fronts on which schools have placed their attention:
- Access control and lock-down capability
Technology has provided schools with access control needed to manage access by approved personnel with proximity readers that are easily updated from a central point. Gone are the days in which keys have to be retrieved and locks have to be changed when there are changes in staff. With state-of-the-art software, doors and hallways can immediately be locked down systematically and authorities notified of an emergency. Security is a proactive system that is in place rather than a reaction in a highly-charged situation.
- Surveillance and monitoring activity
Security cameras and video surveillance have made it possible for schools to not just identify culprits when it comes to vandalism and illegal activity such as after-hours drug dealing, but also to identify behaviors that require attention and remediation. Teachers and administration know that unacceptable behaviors are often hidden from their eyes and those exhibiting that behavior may be good at hiding it. Awareness makes it possible to develop school programs and set goals to address problems individually and globally and build a positive culture and environment in the school community.
What’s next for your building security?
The steps you have taken to improve the safety of your school and the security of all who inhabit it have made a difference. There is still more to do. Contact Conzer Security for a free security consultation to review the status of your system and to identify what more can be done.
As educators you know that technology advances every day and it might be time to update your system to take advantage of those improvements. Your staff, your students, your community depend on you. We don’t want you to have to bear that responsibility alone. Here at Conzer Security, we have families, too, and understand what you feel. We also have the expertise and knowledge to help.
Call us at 317-580-9460 today. Let’s keep this positive trend going!