School security is always a top priority, but these days it seems to be more important than ever. Many schools are now considering armed security guards as a solution–but is this really the best option for keeping students safe? There are some significant challenges, costs, and controversies associated with having armed guards in schools. This has many schools looking at other options.
Armed Guards & School Resource Officers: Are There Alternatives?
Thankfully, there are alternatives to armed guards and SROs in schools that are worth considering. And there are legitimate reasons for districts to pause and question whether armed guards and SROs are really necessary. Before looking at possible alternatives, it is important to understand why schools might not want to bring guards and SROs on board, after all.
While guards may work well for some schools and SROs for others, security personnel are not always the best solution for every school’s security needs. Guards are costly to school budgets, making it difficult for many school districts to hire qualified personnel for every school in the system. The very presence of guards and SROs can sometimes detract from the learning atmosphere and may make students and staff feel more on-edge as they go about their daily work and activities. It can be difficult to determine how many guards are enough, too–does every classroom need a guard, or is it enough to have armed security personnel at the district office ready for dispatch? The same argument runs with SROs. For every school, the answers may differ, and finding the right solution can be tough. Even if SROs and guards are making schools safer, there are other considerations that can make these decisions more complicated, like culture, than just finding and hiring the right people for the job.
Unfortunately, having armed guards and SROs onsite also does not guarantee safety. Security personnel cannot always arrive at the scene on-time to prevent a tragedy, even if they’re only down the hall. Schools still need to take appropriate security measures even with guards around, so armed guards in schools may not actually save your school money or allow you to avoid having a security system in place.
What are the alternatives, then? Typically, schools consider adding staff training, arming their teachers, using video surveillance, or having some type of access control system in place.
Additional Training and Hiring
At many schools, administrators ultimately recommend providing additional training or hiring more staff to try and boost security. This may mean establishing training programs to instruct teachers on how to identify and respond in crucial security situations. While this can be helpful, it also has its limits. You can’t train for every possible scenario. You’ll have to train both students and teachers in order to make the program more effective and help everyone to know how to respond appropriately if the worst happens. Training and education are excellent ideas, but to apply technology in conjunction to the process of training, only then will the training be most effective. Adding more staff, too, can help by improving supervision but ultimately does little impact on how secure the school really is.
Arming Teachers and Child Protection
Some schools may be thinking about providing weapons training to teachers and arming them during their on-campus work. This controversial idea does put armed guards in schools, but presents some significant challenges for schools that can’t be ignored. Besides what may be the most obvious objection–concern from parents about the presence of weapons in classrooms–there are other potential problems. Weapons on campus can present liability and insurance issues to say the least. Schools are responsible for the cost of training, licensing, and arming teachers. Many teachers aren’t already familiar with how to use weapons in general and may require additional support. The relationship between a teacher and student is at jeopardy as well. This can affect students ability to learn and receive information from the teacher. Some educators may expect higher compensation to reflect the added job responsibility or risk. These are all factors that schools will have to consider and plan for.
Video Surveillance vs Modern Surveillance
Districts can choose various types of surveillance that rely on traditional technology such as video and closed-circuit systems. While these can be an important part of securing a property, they do sometimes require additional staffing for monitoring purposes. They have significant weaknesses such as blind spots or gaps in coverage that can leave parts of the campus vulnerable, as can lighting problems. A modern approach to surveillance is accumulating data from students, staff and visitors. From this data accumulated, we are then able to track what might be a red flag.
Smart ID Cards and Visitor Management Systems
Finally, though, there is a holistic and comprehensive solution that can address some of the primary weaknesses of other solutions. Visitor management systems address the majority of the core problem toward securing the campus by screening outside visitors. Sex offender checks are available and can put schools in front of a situation instead of reacting to it. As repeat visitors enter the school, they can be given a fob to avoid having to go through the visitor check-in process. A supplemental tool to securing your campus can be a behavior intervention program, like ABE (Alternative Behavior Educator), which helps manage student behavior and is more of a long-term progression.
Student and staff identification with Smart ID cards allows schools to implement robust access control and attendance solutions. Schools can control building and door access privileges by allowing only passage through certain doors at specified days and times.
With a complete system like ScholarChip’s, school can be in control of who is coming in and out of their buildings. Real-time reports give administrators a look into visitor history, attendance and more, providing insight into day-to-day happenings. Using a comprehensive system, gives schools more control over the security of your campus.
With the increasing need for school security throughout districts, there are many alternatives to having armed guards and SROs on your campus. There are multiple solutions to achieve this goal, but one innovative solution is utilizing current technology that automates and clears visitors coming in and out of your school buildings, along with supplemental tools like behavior management, student and staff smart ID cards, attendance, access control and more.. This solution provides the data management you need in order to safely secure your campus from internal or external dangers.
ScholarChip’s holistic solution for addressing school security includes managing visitors, as well as student attendance, behavior intervention, Smart ID Cards with student and staff identification, cafeteria point-of-sale and door access control. Real-time data and reporting that can be leveraged to make informed decisions and promote the kind of climate that schools are looking for.
If you would like to learn more about how your school can benefit from implementing ScholarChip’s platform, feel free to request a 1-on-1 strategy session today!