Improving school safety best practices & security technology
Improving School Safety: Best Practices & Security Technology
Safety and security are essential in any learning environment, for students and teachers alike.
Let’s take a look at some best practices and security technology that can help you secure your
school campus. Applying these practices will help school administrators coordinate with teachers
and other staff in case of an emergency, security breach, or other issue on campus.
1: Evaluate Existing Security Procedures
Hire an education security expert to evaluate your school’s risk assessment plans. The review
should highlight safety precautions, procedures, and action plans for school administrators, law
enforcers, teachers, parents, and other community members in case of an emergency or security
2: Encourage Parent Involvement
Overhauling a school’s security system can be expensive. Parents can wield significant power
when it comes to lobbying legislators for additional funding for security in public schools,
especially when parents work collectively. Encourage parents to engage their kids in
conversations about their fears, and issues like cyberbullying. Teaching kids non-violent conflict
resolution can help reduce aggression and violence on school campuses.
3: Adopt a Comprehensive Anti-Bullying Program
Bullying on school campuses has become an increasing problem in recent decades, and
cyberbullying adds an additional layer to the problem. Being the victim of a bully can be
devastating, impacting a student’s ability to learn, as well as their emotional health and their
physical safety. Assess how much bullying is going on at your school—hire an expert, if
necessary—and educate parents and students about the harms of bullying. Build a safe
environment by creating policies and rules that make it clear bullying is not acceptable, and
ensure the rules are strictly enforced. Every child deserves to feel safe and free from harassment
4: Utilize a Wireless Emergency Call System for Emergencies
A wireless system that can signal assistance to an on-site or off-site security team in case of an
emergency can be an affordable way to enhance your school’s security program. Using small
push button transmitters that can be worn by staff, attached under desks and counters, or wall
mounted, the system sends a wireless signal identifying the issue to any combination of pocket
pagers, two way radios, cell phones, email addresses, or other notification devices. Opt for a
system that can also be programmed to send an alarm to your local 911 centers or central
5: Set Up a Hotline or Website
Many people are hesitant to report bullying, theft, or other crimes or suspicious activity. By
setting up a website or hotline (one that also allows anonymous tips), students, teachers, and
parents may be more likely to report problems.
6: Build Ties with Local Law Enforcement
Forging relationships with local police is critical, as emergency response needs to happen rapidly
in order to be effective. If your school doesn’t have a regularly assigned, full-time officer, ask
your police chief, sheriff, or the state police to make a special assignment(s) during school hours.
Assigned police officers serve various roles, including that of safety expert, law enforcer,
educator, and liaison between community members and groups. Work with the assigned officers
to help students and staff understand emergency and security procedures.
7: Always Know Who Is on Campus
The perimeter of your school’s campus should be secured, and the main entrance should be
controlled using an electronic access system. Video monitoring at entrances and throughout
campus will aid not only in the detection of interpersonal conflicts between students, but also in
identifying suspicious activity. Visitors approved to enter should be required to check-in at an
office, provide a government-issued identification, and then be given a temporary badge to wear
while on campus.
8: Search for Funding to Finance School Security Improvements
Public schools, especially those in underserved communities, are less likely to have the funding
they need to implement a robust safety and security program. Public and private grants may be
available—a good place to start looking for such grants is at the federal and state departments of
education. Search for grants on the U.S. Department of Education website.
Additional measures to ensure school security:
Install fences and/or walls that are difficult to cut or climb. Chain-link fences generally
do not provide adequate security—invest instead in tubular steel fences.
Always use institutional-grade door hardware, handles, and locks to withstand heavy use.
Make sure all entrances are monitored when students arrive in the morning and after
school. While classes are in session, create a single point of entry that leads to the front
office for visitors.
Install an intercom system in the administrative office that enables staff to visually verify
a guest’s identity before they are allowed access to the office.
Consider installing ballistic plastic in the administrative office to separate staff from
visitors. When done properly, this can still allow for a welcoming environment.
Train teachers, administrative staff, and custodians on the importance of access control
and of emergency preparedness. Conduct regular emergency preparedness drills with
staff and students.
Provide teachers and staff with some form of wireless emergency call system that enables
them to communicate in case of an emergency or security breach.
Implement sensitivity and diversity training; ensure that teachers, students, and
administrative staff behave in ways that value cultural, ethnic, and other minority groups.
Ensure that identifiers for gang-related activity (e.g. clothing and gang signs) are kept off
Ensure the interior and exterior of the building are well-lit and kept clean and in good
repair; this reflects pride in school identity.
If one doesn’t exist, formulate a Mission Statement for your school and post and share it
with students, teachers, and administrative staff.
Don’t wait until an emergency occurs in your school. A combination of security risk
assessments, emergency/crisis preparedness planning, security technology, and community
involvement can make a tremendous difference in securing your school and ensuring that
students and staff are safe. School safety and security have been matters of growing concern over
the past few decades, and while people haven’t always agreed on exactly what constitutes
appropriate measures for securing schools, we are all united in our collective desire to care for
and protect our children.