The need for campus security is a relevant issue for all schools today. Parents and the media have all began to explore how to make campuses a safer place for elementary, middle school, high school and college students everywhere.
Why There is A Need for Campus Security?
The recent Virginia Tech incident brings to mind gun safety initiatives and how kids can be protected from worst-case scenarios. However, actual school shootings while crushingly hard on communities, families and students aren't that common. The need for campus security goes far beyond what's fresh with the media.
MSNBC recently offered an excellent report on 10 Myths About School Shootings. The article reports that school violence has actually dropped by 50 percent in the past decade. That's good news but doesn't underplay the need for proper security on all campuses.
Each year, schools around the country releases violence reports to students or parents and always reports show that crime still happens. Theft, sexual assault, bullying, hallway fights and more. Even if school violence has gone down, there's still a need for campus security to handle other issues.
What Kind of Campus Security is Necessary?
The appropriate campus security is debatable. Some people feel that proper security will come with banning guns while others feel metal detectors will work. There are other less evasive ways to address school security; most of them more organic in nature. We can keep security cameras out of school classrooms and still keep kids safe.
Typical Security Needs
Various sorts of systems may be able to fill the campus security needs at a school. Some of the ways that security can be increased at a campus is to focus on items that include:
- Emergency and crisis preparedness
- School police staffing; on a lesser level school guards, adult hall monitors, schoolyard guards and instructors trained in basic defense operatives.
- Internal security that covers confidential items like office management and registration paperwork.
- Campus and community collaboration for safety in not only the school but surrounding neighborhoods.
Procedural Security Needs
Procedures that are overlooked can also cause a need for campus security. Some procedural aspects of security that can be assessed and addressed if necessary include:
- Staff and student awareness training regarding all aspects of safety and security
- Basic safety issues addressed; it does little good to address big issues if instructors can't locate a first aid kit or work a fire extinguisher
- A good system for planning for security issues which may include a school team safety committee
- Proper employee protection in place such as a workplace emergency action plan
- Zoning and property issues, such as signs up, fences, doors that lock and limited access to the campus
For more information on these types of procedural issues take a look at, University Job Safety Analysis Manual or School District Safety Rules.
Social and Community Security Needs
Increasing the community and social aspects of a school system can ultimately increase overall security without a school ever having to hire a new actual police guard. These sorts of techniques include:
- Adequate health care services and or referrals on campus
- Proper mental health facilities or care providers on campus such as school psychologists and counselors
- Transportation, technology and tutoring services and on high school and upper level campuses career referrals and job placement assistance.
- Opportunities for parent and trained volunteer involvement
These may seem unrelated to campus safety but much of the crime on campuses is initiated by students themselves. Whether it's a nine-year-old bully or an 18-year-old thief, crime can be prevented when students are and feel well-cared for.
The Social Awareness of Youth
One form of campus security that is underutilized is the student body. Students can actually provide a fair amount of campus security with the proper tools. Students have the ability to stop violence before it starts in many cases. Socially aware students who receive workshops on topics like bullies, rape, self defense, protocol for what to do if another student (or teacher) threatens violence, and how to be in groups not outside of them are all tools students can use to protect themselves and other students.
If parents, teachers, and the community as a whole began talking about a zero tolerance for violence early on, before elementary school and then continued the conversation up to the university level, students themselves might be less likely to be violent. Students who understand the moral and social impacts of violence will tolerate it less than the students who never get an opportunity to learn about this important issue.