The term “physical campus safety” probably conjures up images of smoke detectors, evacuation plans, tornado drills, recess monitors and other components of school safety that have been around for decades.
More recently, for many schools additional measures have become necessary, including metal detectors, stricter visitor management procedures, anonymous online reporting systems, campus police, school resource officers and an abundance of educational technology geared towards safety and security. From this influx of infrastructure, equipment, procedures and personnel centered around safety, can one conclude that K-12 schools and districts are becoming too dangerous for students?
We don’t think so; rather, well-managed schools are among the safest environments for students.
In most cases, school safety entails the protection of students against threats that originate off school premises. Metal detectors are put into place to prevent the import of dangerous weapons; visitor management procedures have become stricter to ensure that individuals with access to the premises don’t have malicious intents; evacuation plans are often focused on outside threats; and so on.
One might argue that conflict among students (whether in the form of violence or harassment) provides a viable exception. Even when conflict arises on campus, however, more often than not the source can be traced to an outside origin. That is to say, schools are not the origin of this conflict, but a mere medium in which students have an opportunity to act on already established unhealthy habits.
Let’s not confuse a medium of conflict with a source of conflict. When schools are managed well, there are provisions in place to promote healthy relationships among students and to fight some of the threats that originate from the outside.
To learn more about how your school or district can achieve a positive school climate, be sure to look at the Gaggle success stories of some of our partner school districts.