An article in USA Today details the nature of perceptions of safety in our schools today. At one high school the students started feeling unsafe due to a series of threats and fights. The culmination was a series of warnings of potential violence. As a result the school allowed parents to pull their children from class. The broader implication is that even though the school has security measures in place the perception is that it isn’t enough and the children aren’t safe. This is not an uncommon feeling across the country.
A Ball State University study recently showed that 1/3 of parents with children in school expect a shooting at their high school. While the numbers don’t present this as likely it is the insecurity and uncertainty that must be addressed. In the study there was an interesting finding;
“According to the study, parents said the most effective anti-gun violence school policies are as follows: installing an alert system in schools, working with law enforcement to design an emergency response plan, creating a comprehensive security plan…”
The best perceived response is not the typical response of enhanced surveillance and access control. Parents want to know that the staff is prepared to respond and that coordination with police is in place. More importantly they want an alert system in place to notify everyone of the crisis. These are the critical components of school safety that must be addressed.
Interesting to note is that the coordination, plans and alerts are already in place in our schools for fire and climactic events. Every state requires periodic training and drills on fire alarms, bus evacuation, and weather related emergencies. Nothing is required for the threat of a hostile threat in schools and yet this is the most common threat that our children will have to face during their educational careers.
At SafeDefend we have recognized for years the reality regarding a hostile threat. We understand that the risk of an intruder is low but at the same time recognize that it is an unpredictable possibility. It’s the uncertainty that we must address. Failing to prepare for a crisis means that when it occurs the results will be catastrophic. When parents hear of a school fire or weather event at school they are confident the school is prepared to protect their children. Most parents, however, don’t feel this is true for armed intruders. Schools and businesses need to start preparing for the 21st century threat of school and workplace violence that are both on the rise.