School Violence Is On The Rise, But Administrators Can Take Steps To Protect Students and Staff
School administrators’ most critical tasks is ensuring that the children and young adults in their care are safe. Each day, millions of families send their children to school expecting that they’ll be nestled in a caring, safe environment for the day.
Unfortunately, violence in schools is on the rise, with school shootings increasing dramatically since the 2009-2010 academic year, going from 11 in 2009-2010 to 93 in 2020-2021. Additionally, nearly half of all high school students in the United States have reported at least one violent encounter during their time at school.
Acts of violence aren’t the only threats that students, faculty, and staff face throughout the school day. Non-violent emergencies such as weather or man-made disasters (fires, floods, etc.) and health emergencies also create scenarios where administrators must act quickly to ensure the safety and security of the individuals in their care. Of course, in many communities, school buildings are often used as a place of refuge during emergencies, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, meaning the buildings and their staff must be prepared for any situations that could arise.
Some of the best ways that school administrators and town officials can ensure the safety of students is by implementing some of the following security solutions:
- Access Control Solutions
- Mass Notification Systems
- Video Surveillance Systems
- Automatic License Plate and Facial Recognition Solutions
Access Control Solutions
Using systems such as key cards, biometric readers, or keypad entry systems, access control solutions allow administrators to restrict access to certain areas – or to the entire building – and give them the ability to monitor and manage who enters the school, creating a safer environment for students, staff, and visitors. To allow approved individuals to enter certain areas, key cards or biometric credentials can be issued to students, staff, and authorized visitors based on their permissions and clearance levels. In a security breach, the access control logs can be reviewed to identify who was present at a specific time or location.
Mass Notification Systems
Mass Notification Systems (MNS) allow school administrators to coordinate emergency response efforts and provide instructions by simultaneously distributing alerts and notifications in multiple ways, including sirens, lights, and pre-recorded messages. Ultimately, MNS is a centralized platform for managing emergency communications, ensuring that critical information reaches the right people promptly.
Video surveillance helps school administrators and security personnel maintain a proactive stance against potential threats by capturing real-time footage. Not only does video surveillance help with real-time monitoring and post-event review but the presence of visible cameras has been proven to deter individuals from engaging in dangerous or illegal activities or acts of violence.
During an emergency, real-time video feeds can be shared with first responders to coordinate an appropriate response. At the same time, law enforcement can also use captured video as evidence in criminal investigations.
Automatic License Plate Recognition and Facial Recognition Solutions
When used in conjunction with an existing video surveillance system, facial recognition software and automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) software can significantly enhance school safety by providing additional layers of security and monitoring capabilities.
Facial recognition software can be used to identify and track individuals entering school premises. By analyzing facial features, the software can compare captured images against a database of known individuals, such as registered staff, students, or flagged individuals (such as expelled students or individuals with a restraining order), helping to identify unauthorized individuals, potential threats, or persons of interest in real-time and potentially preventing security breaches.
Similarly, automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) uses specialized cameras to capture and analyze license plate information of vehicles entering the school premises or nearby areas. ALPR systems can be integrated with law enforcement databases, quickly identifying suspicious vehicles or individuals with safety concerns.
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