Students have always faced stress in school.
Making friends, trying to fit in, coming to terms with who they are, taking tests, all of this is creating significant stress to students.
And now we add the fear violence at school.
Yes, as a former violent crime detective and father of five children in K-12 and college, I balance having realistic conversations with my kids and at the same time providing comfort. Situational awareness and preparedness can reduce stress.
However, much of the public discussion about school violence running non-stop on TV or online news feeds is full of doom and despair. Fear sells products and there is no shortage of shark security vendors peddling fear to parents and schools all in the name of earning a dollar.
Many of our political leaders, both sides of the aisles, do not understand violence prevention any more than most parents. Yet they parade in front of microphones daily, espousing theories, many to grab headlines but will do little to move the safety needle in the right direction.
The added stress of feeling safe
Just two weeks into the new school year, most students across the nation have already practiced a “lockdown” drill which includes turning off the lights, locking the classroom door, covering the windows, and crouching down near the windows or under desks.
This week, I have seen communication with parents to let them know about upcoming active shooter drills and reunification. Asking for their help in the reunification drill, to have a live simulation. All good.
However, I quickly learned in the communication where the schools reunification site was located. Understanding that most school shootings involved students, are we playing our cards? Should our reunification site be another school location? Yes or no. Not easy questions to answer. Some would say yes, that it creates smoother reunification process. Some on our team who have served on presidential security details would say no.
Why? What if it is a coordinate attack? Can you envision students acting in concert to pull off an active shooter event? Columbine?
We need to be cautious about how much information we share. Should we use a “practice” reunification site that does not give away our strategy? At a minimum, we should have a primary and secondary location for reunification.
There is no doubt that school safety is a prominent concern – and it should be. Though it is good to prepare students for what to do in an emergency, it is also imperative that schools utilize the latest safety technology to help secure their buildings and bring some peace of mind to their staff, educators, and students.
Make no mistake, security technology in schools is a key factor for our nation’s schools in helping to prevent tragedies like Newtown, Parkland, Santa Fe, and so many others from happening at all – or at least reducing the number of tragedies and threats of violence from occurring on a daily basis.
Too many of our nation’s schools are still vulnerable to intruders due to easy access to the building.
School safety is much more complex than active shooter. I get headlines multiple times a day with school volunteers or employees that have molested, seduced or sexually abused a student.
Knowing who you are allowing in your buildings is the foundation of a security program.
Security Technology in Schools
Every school in our nation should have security technology in schools, like a Visitor Management System (VMS) which can:
Having defined access controls based on the type of visitor.
Integrated background checks that can be defined by the type of visitor.
Have the capability to manage excluded parties and flag them if they try to enter.
Must be cloud-based, as well as work on cellular or separate WiFi networks (school networks are often blocked during an event).
Integrate with student information systems and check-in kiosk for scan-in/scan-out and authentication verification for government ID’s
Offer continuous background checks and arrest-alerts in real-time for Volunteers and Employees so if they are arrested for a prohibitive crime you will be notified in real time..
Offer geofencing capabilities to set parameters that control access.
Expedite getting students to parents/guardians quickly and ensure their release to no one other than parents/guardians.
Emergency/Denial notification buttons
Integrations with crisis management systems to create a 360 security solution.