There is often a disparity between perceived danger and actual danger.
Are school safety policies and practices effective in reducing danger or do they just make it appear that problems are being addressed?
Are student perceptions about school safety consistent with parent/teacher concerns?
Armed Intruder Drills
Are they worth shaking up our students?
During a mock emergency ( students were not informed ) in Illinois, a “student who the ‘intruder’ was searching for fled school grounds and had to be located and brought back to school.” ( http://www.journalstandard.com/news/education/x767231630/School-safety-drill-sparks-controversy-in-Orangeville )
Would these drills be of significant help if an unhinged person really was armed and intent upon harming students?
Events like Columbine are shocking and tragic, but are they frequent enough to warrant emergency drills for “preparedness”?
Chaining Entrances Shut, Frisking, Installing Metal Detectors
“ Forced to choose between creating a fire hazard or opening their schools to the violence of the streets, some Baltimore principals are chaining and padlocking all but a few of their schoolhouse doors.” ( http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1998-01-23/news/1998023022_1_doors-fire-department-modern-schools )
Do students feel students feel safer or do they feel locked-in, like inmates at a penitentiary?
Does limiting access into the school actually reduce the amount of drugs or weapons or danger?
According to a U Mass Boston study, “metal detectors are negatively correlated with students’ sense of safety at school.” ( http://eus.sagepub.com/content/43/4/486.abstract )
Do Mandatory Fingerprinting and Background Checks Keep Predators from Working as Teachers?
“ Almost forty Massachusetts teachers have lost their licenses in the last eight years [pre 2003], most for sexual misconduct. Fifty more are under investigation. Even more scary -- the state has no way of knowing if a teacher molested children someplace else.” ( http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/no_more_pencils_no_more_books_no_more_teachers_dirty_looks/ )
“ Lack of cooperation among states: Only a few states -- not including Pennsylvania, Ohio or West Virginia -- have revocation "reciprocity" with neighboring states. In other words, if one state revokes a teacher's license, another state can automatically revoke the license without a hearing and also may deny an application from that teacher. Without reciprocity, state officials must conduct their own, time-consuming investigation before taking the teacher's license.” ( http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/19991101abuse1.asp )
WorldNetDaily News lists scores of teachers convicted of having sexual relationships with students across the United States ( http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=39783 ) Ostensibly, the convicted were all fingerprinted and had background checks performed prior to hire.
Only the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which is used by 42 states to vet new teachers, searches fingerprint records on file everywhere. ( http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/no_more_pencils_no_more_books_no_more_teachers_dirty_looks/ )
Required Student Identification
“ Students at Ruston [Colorado] High School, like many students across the nation, [are] required to wear an ID badge as part of added security precautions. The badges in Ruston include each student's Social Security number, a violation of federal law according to two students. The badges are worn on a lanyard with the Pepsi logo on it. The badge has a photo of the student, the school name, the student's name, and a barcode which represents the Social Security number.” ( http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/CERU-9909-98-OWI.pdf )
Danger can come from students and non-students alike.
If the institution is so large--and/or the student to teacher ratio so disparate--that staff cannot recognize young people by face or name, isn’t it obvious that the system needs to change?
Do student concerns gel with those of adults?
According to a large study published in The Journal of Early Adolescence, “actions taken by the school to enhance school safety were the weakest predictor of student perceptions of school safety and substance use.” ( http://jea.sagepub.com/content/24/4/412.abstract )
According to “a report analyzing the results of the 2010 Virginia School Safety Audit Survey ... bullying is the No. 1 safety concern not only in the state’s elementary schools, but in middle and high schools, too.” (http://curry.virginia.edu/press-releases/bullying-no1-concern)