How Safe Are Today’s Schools?

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in


The reputation of the neighborhood school as a safe haven for learning has taken a beating over the past few years as stories about school shootings and violence splash across the Internet, local TV coverage and on the front pages of hometown news. For concerned parents, educators and students, the question remains: how safe are today’s schools? In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics published their latest data, a report based on the responses of school principals across the United States about what safety measures have been implemented at their schools, and more importantly what ones haven’t been. The answers will surprise you. What the report shows is that public schools use a variety of practices and procedures intended to promote the safety of students and staff. In the School Survey on Crime and Safety, public school principals were asked about their school’s use of safety and security measures and procedures. Certain practices such as locked or monitored doors or gates are intended to limit or control access to school campuses, while others such as metal detectors, security cameras and limiting access to social networking websites are intended to monitor or restrict students’ and visitors’ behavior on campus. By 2012, 88 percent of public schools reported that they controlled access to school buildings by locking or monitoring doors during school hours. Other safety and security measures frequently reported by public schools included the use of security cameras to monitor the school (64 percent) and the enforcement of a strict dress code (49 percent). In addition, 44 percent of public schools reported that they controlled access to school grounds by locking or monitoring gates during school hours, 24 percent reported the use of random dog sniffs to check for drugs, and 19 percent required that students wear uniforms. In general, higher percentages of public than of private schools reported the use of various safety and security measures in 2012. For example, higher percentages of public than of private schools reported the use of security cameras (64 vs. 41 percent) and random dog sniffs to check for drugs (24 vs. 4 percent). Higher percentages of public than of private schools also reported the following measures: controlling access to school buildings during school hours, requiring that students wear badges or picture IDs, requiring that book bags be clear or banning them from school, conducting metal detector checks on students (including both random and daily checks) and conducting random sweeps for contraband. However, higher percentages of private than of public schools enforced a strict dress code (71 vs. 49 percent) and required that students wear uniforms (57 vs. 19 percent). Also, higher percentages of public secondary schools or combined schools than of elementary schools reported using the following safety and security measures: enforcing a strict dress code, requiring that students wear badges or picture IDs, requiring that book bags be clear or banning them from school, conducting metal detector checks on students (including both random and daily checks), using random dog sniffs to check for drugs, conducting random sweeps for contraband and using security cameras to monitor the school. The use of safety and security measures in 2012 also varied by public school locale. Higher percentages of public city schools than of public schools in suburban, town, and rural areas reported the following measures: controlling access to school grounds during school hours, requiring that students wear uniforms, enforcing a strict dress code, requiring that students wear badges or picture IDs and conducting metal detector checks on students (including both random and daily checks).

Source: http://issuu.com/outlook-12/docs/k12_04-01...