Preventing School Violence – What Tech Security is Worth the Cost?
With each new advancement in both specialized and mainstream technology, it becomes a more and more talked-about aspect of the U.S. education system. This is especially true when the topic shifts to preventing school violence.
Administration and teachers everywhere are pushing for technology as a solution to deterring much of the violence that occurs in and around schools. But security technology is usually both expensive and controversial, so how does one chose what to invest in?
Below are a few of the most popular school security options and a list of their pros and cons:
Preventing School Violence – Some Tech Security Options:
Metal detectors are excellent ways to physically prevent weapons from entering the building. Also, their impressive and intimidating structure provides a strong deterrent for both students and visitors who would otherwise try bringing a weapon into the school.
The detectors themselves are expensive, and then having to staff the detectors with security personnel is an added cost. Also, while technically making the school safer, the presence of metal detectors often has a reverse effect for students and parents psychologically, serving as a fear re-enforcement and a constant reminder that the school is not safe.
There are many pros to security camera installation in schools, which is why a vast majority of schools around the country have already installed them. Unlike metal detectors, they are discreet enough that students, faculty, and staff can go about their day without the constant reminder of a security presence. Yet, it becomes a deterrent once an individual wishes to commit an act of theft or violence, for they will usually remember (or quickly learn through getting caught) that what they do will be recorded on camera.
Security cameras are also expensive, and the more installed, the higher the price for purchase, installation, and maintenance. There is also a strong controversy surrounding securities cameras in general and also depending on location. Many students and parents have protested cameras being set up in classrooms. There are also limitations to cameras, in that they are not allowed in bathrooms or locker rooms, which are prime locations for violent incidents.
When well-utilized, smartphones can be a very efficient way for preventing violence in schools. Apps and software are now available that allow teachers and administers to alert security personnel of an internal incident or place the school on lock-down in the event of a non-student active shooter. Law enforcement can be alerted in the moment without even having to call 911, which could be vital if the alerting individual is unable to talk on the phone or does not have the time to explain the situation. And in this day and age, with over half of American adults owning smartphones, it is a cheap and easy option for a school’s budget.
Even with the widespread use of smartphones for all sorts of daily actions, there is still a stigma of them being unprofessional. Discontent and resentment from students and parents can also arise if teachers and administrators are allowed to use their phones while students are banned from cellphone use in school, which is a very common rule.
While more expensive for the school budget itself than utilizing faculty and staff’s personal phones, providing them with radios that coincide with the school security team can be incredibly effective. All adults can communicate easily amongst themselves if an incidence of violence has occurred or is about to occur, regardless of their location and whether they are teachers, administration, or security personnel. Radios also have a much more professional and “no-nonsense” appearance for on-looking students. Specially selected students could also be allowed radios, increasing the amount of people on the lookout for potential threats of violence.
Like security cameras, radios are limited. Every school is bound to have “dead spots” where radio frequency is weak or even non-existent. Radios also require verbal communication, so a teacher or staff member hiding from an active shooter, for example, would potentially be putting themself in danger by radioing for help.
An important thing to remember when deciding to purchase tech security is analyzing your school’s specific needs. Identify the most reoccurring, widespread issues of violence in your school and use that knowledge to assess which technologies are most needed and worth working into the budget.