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Teens Feel Threat of Violence at Schools

The Problem: The above newspaper headline is not front-page news. In the old days, smoking in the boy’s room was the infraction of the day. Today, school officials must deal with violence, sexual harassment, statutory rape, drugs, weapons, gangs, bombs, shootings, murders, computer hacking, theft, irate parents, and violence in students’ homes. One of the biggest obstacles keeping schools from achieving a secure environment is “the big D” a.k.a. Denial. The “It can’t happen here” syndrome prevents officials from being proactive in their security efforts. Furthermore, concerns about “image,” low reports of incidents, fear of disrupting daily routines, or reluctance to be “alarmist” stalls any security efforts.

The Solution: Be proactive in reducing the threat of school violence. Train teachers to use reasonable methods of defusing escalating situations. Involve teachers and students in an ongoing safety and security strategy. Make them part of the solution by giving them the tools they need to gain control during crises and to identify hazards. We provide you with the fundamentals of safety and the strategies for security to help you make smarter time, money and life-saving decisions.

You Learn How To:

  • Establish guidelines for preventing violence in the school.
  • Involve parents in the process.
  • Identify and defuse potential outbursts.
  • Incorporate ongoing training in responding to crises.
  • Gain cooperation between students and teachers.
  • Have a plan of action to deal with weapons.
  • Create committees, inspections, and reporting procedures.
  • Determine risk factors and solutions.
  • Analyze high and low-tech security options for the premises.
  • Use non-violent means of restraining someone.
  • Defend yourself in an assault.

11 Tips to Public School Security by Robert L Siciliano © 2006

In the old days smoking in the boy’s room was the infraction of the day. Today school officials must deal with violence, sexual harassment, statutory rape, drugs, weapons, gangs, bombs, shootings, murders, computer hacking, theft, irate disgruntled parents and domestic violence.

One of the biggest obstacles keeping schools from achieving a secure environment is “The big D” a.k.a Denial. The “It can’t happen here” syndrome prevents officials from being proactive in their security efforts. Furthermore, images concerns, lack of reporting incidences, fear of disrupting daily routines, or fear of being ‘alarmists’ stalls any security efforts.

Fortunately parents insistent upon tighter security measures are raising awareness and officials have no choice but to re-think security practices. The following protective measures should be considered in every school security program.

  1. Statistically Speaking: half of all teens see schools growing more violent. One in 10 students are in fear of being hurt by weapons, 15 percent know someone who has carried a gun to school, 40 percent of teens say that they have used violence to protect themselves. 85 percent of teens believe drugs and alcohol are primary causes of teen violence. *Children’s Institute International.
  2. Technology: security cameras, metal detectors, pass keys, access controls, and radios have their advantages. However, these are only tools to assist officials in an ongoing security plan. Plugging these devices in and ‘feeling’ secure is a false sense of security. Utilizing these devices effectively means strategically placing them in areas of concern and having diligent staff monitoring and operating these devices to their fullest capacity.
  3. Security Officers: School Resource Officers are trained professionals who enforce rules of law, they also educate and council students and teachers, and monitor premise security and installed technologies. Security Officers require significant financial investment, and more importantly, the support of school officials.
  4. Crisis Intervention: acts of violence, sexual harassment, statutory rape, drugs, weapons, gangs, bombs, shootings, murders, computer hacking, theft, irate disgruntled parents and domestic violence all require crisis response. Established OSHA guidelines, security consultants and law enforcement officials can help with proper training.
  5. Security Training: it is the responsibility of officials to implement solid security strategies and practices. Establish guidelines customized to the facilities requirements. Staff and students must be included in all ongoing security efforts. Students are on the frontlines and can offer a wealth of information.
  6. Non-Violence Intervention: have systems in place to deal with students, parents or teachers who act out aggressively. There are many resources available to educate staff and students on how to effectively diffuse an escalating situation.
  7. Physical Security: is fundamental to normal growth and development. Teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn in a hostile environment. A pro-active approach to security is the only way to ensure a safe and secure environment. Reactive responses to security not only are ineffective; the damage has already been done.
  8. Parents Responsibilities: are you involved with the security function at school? Are the doors locked? Have you asked your children if they have seen a weapon on campus? Are there any disruptive or violent students in school to be concerned about? What measures has the school taken to ensure safety?
  9. Students Responsibilities: have you talked to your teachers or parents? Do you have immediate concerns that need to be addressed? Have you been threatened? Is there anyone in school who has made mention of shooting students or blowing up the school? You muse be proactively involved in your schools safety. Tell an adult what you know and what you feel.
  10. Zero Tolerance: ZT policies for officials, teachers, students and parents must be created and communicated to all affected. However, ZT policies are being abused and misunderstood. It is important that officials understand the difference between a disgruntled student and a good kid who draws pictures of weapons.
  11. Self Defense: unfortunately there are times when physically responding to a student, disgruntled teacher or parent might be necessary. Understanding basic personal safety philosophy, basic self-defense techniques and how to disarm an assailant are fundamental lifesaving strategies in today’s volatile society.

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