By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice
With the end of summer break approaching for many U.S. families, preparations are being made for children to start the new school year. However, school security is at the forefront of the minds of many American families, due to the increase of school violence in recent years.
The ending of the last school year was marked by the horrifying events of May 24, when 19 children and two adults were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Naturally, parents and school administrators are legitimately concerned about their children’s safety and are taking steps to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in their own communities.
Related link: Uvalde School Shooting: Insights from the Investigation
Parents Should Learn What Steps Schools Are Taking to Improve School Security
Ideally, parents should learn what security measures are being implemented in their children’s schools for improving school security. For many schools, improving school security includes:
- Stronger access control to prevent unauthorized people from entering school grounds
- Locked classroom doors when classes are in session
- An increased police presence on school campus
- An increased use of metal detectors in the main lobby area where students and staff enter the campus
- Training to help school staff to recognize and respond to potential threats
To understand what security precautions are in place at their children’s schools, parents should contact school administrators or the school board to discuss what is being done to keep children safe for the upcoming school year. If parents are not happy with those school security measures, speaking with school district leaders may be a good alternate option to emphasize the importance of increasing security at schools.
Related link: There Are No Easy Solutions for Preventing School Shootings
Speaking to Children about the Threat of School Violence
Another important and difficult security precaution to take is to talk with your children about school security and what to do if they observe suspicious behavior or if a school shooting occurs. Often, there are warning signs prior to many incidents of school violence, such as threats on social media sites, obtaining weapons and making statements that concern friends and families.
These days, children should be reminded to report anything that could be associated with a school security threat to their parents or school staff. These reports should include any posts glorifying violence, weapons or destruction that students see on their friends’ social media pages.
Students may be hesitant to report suspicious behavior in fear of being labeled a snitch. However, telling a parent or trusted adult could save the child’s life or the lives of other classmates.
If students detect a potential threat, they can assist law enforcement by taking a screenshot of a social media post before it is erased and promptly sending it to a parent or school administrator. In addition, parents should be proactive in contacting law enforcement and school officials if their child reports seeing anything disturbing on social media or hears anything from their peers that could be construed as a threat to the school.
Students should also know what to do if an emergency like a school shooting occurs while they are in their classrooms or other locations in the school, such as hallways, cafeterias, or libraries. In addition, students should be reminded to closely follow teachers’ instructions in an emergency.
Improving School Security Should be a Top Priority Everywhere
Improving school security should be a top priority in schools everywhere, and everyone has a role in reporting potential threats to law enforcement and school administrators. Similarly, if a child displays threatening behavior, parents need to be proactive in getting help and informing their child’s school of that behavior. If an actual threat is made, the parent should contact both law enforcement and the school.
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