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"Beyond armed security or any other particular safety measure, survey respondents emphasized that nothing was more important to minimizing the violence than preparation."
Over the past few years, a positive consensus seems to have developed. The core of that consensus is that we must find ways to protect our schools from violence. We couldn’t agree more! The challenge, of course, is finding the best way to protect school communities. As is to be expected, a multi-billion dollar industry has sprung up looking for the definitive answer. Unfortunately, as is also to be expected, the Washington Post recently found that many of these “solutions” are expensive pieces of technology that likely wouldn’t have deterred violent events from occurring.
We highly recommend taking a few minutes to read the full article, which is full of excellent data points as well as insight from administrators who have dealt with violence first hand. It also raises an important concern. Some of these “school safety” products are in fact leveraging fear and frustration in order to sell things that may not keep your school any safer.
From our perspective, listening to schools that have experienced gun violence is the most effective way to find what works. The Washington Post article listened, and heard this: “The schools that have experienced gun violence consistently cited simple, well-established safety measures as most effective at minimizing harm.”
What are these safety measures they’re citing? Some things mentioned are rapid lockdown drills, practicing multiple evacuation strategies, and empowering adults on campus to act quickly and decisively in times of crisis. The common thread here is that these strategies are all forms of preparation. They leverage the best safety resource that any school community has - its people.
A statistic we often cite on that subject comes from a Police Foundation study on potential violent events on school grounds that were averted. They found that well over half of these intended acts of violence were revealed to someone in the community before they happened. Then, the person who saw something, said something. Threat assessment programs such as this have been able to head off violence before it appears.
Simply put, data shows that threat assessment programs and effective safety training have a tangible impact in keeping schools safer. There is currently no such data demonstrating that most of the school safety products in the article (like the $500,000 door security and weapons detection system) have any such effect. That doesn’t mean there’s no value to school safety technology. For example, social media monitoring is a useful tool in identifying threats made to your school. But, when schools who have experienced these tragedies say that lockdown drills, practicing evacuation strategies, and having adults who act quickly are what made a difference in minimizing the damage, we believe in listening.
Visit our Mission: Possible page to hear more about how violent occurrences in schools has affected our company's focus and preparation.