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The Top Five Solutions To Prevent Violence in Schools

​From Sandy Hook to Pittsburgh, incidents of school violence have prompted security experts to reevaluate policies and procedures. Following are the five issues that should be top-of-mind for school security professionals.

1. Access control. The days of the “open campus” should be over. Instead, schools should focus on additional security equipment such as better access control and camera systems. Using cameras at primary entry and exit points can help officials know who is on campus. All visitors should be greeted and badged at the main office, and all staff should be vigilant about visitors wandering the building.

2. Awareness. School employees at every level can contribute to security awareness. While teachers, administrators, counselors, and security officers are on the front lines, it’s critical to get input from the custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, crossing guards, and other staff who may see problematic or troubled students on a regular basis.

3. Tip lines. Studies by the U.S. Secret Service indicate that students who use violence often exhibit “third-party leakage,” meaning they tell someone–a friend or a classmate. Each school district needs to have tip lines in place to capture information. Students and parents need to know that there is a way for them to communicate potential threats. It takes courage to overcome a culture that derides snitches, but that’s where violence prevention begins.

4. Weapons education. School districts and police departments need to work together to remind parents about gun safety.  The guns used in school shootings don’t come from the streets. Students get these weapons from their own homes or the homes of relatives. Schools should devise an outreach program to urge parents or guardians to use gun safes and trigger locks.

5. Threat assessment teams. School threat assessment teams should be staffed with HR, secu­rity, legal, risk management, and mental health professionals, as well as representatives from law enforcement. By combining the experience of these groups, schools can create a rapid response team to address bomb threats, cyber and social media threats, homicidal or suicidal students, irrational parents, or the presence of intruders on campus. These teams can improve upon evacuation and shelter-in-place protocols.