The best school safety policies are only as effective as the people who implement them.
Sometimes even the most obvious of security rules get ignored. As a typical student, I have bigger things to worry about: girlfriends, math tests, sports, whether or not I can go to a movie on Friday, and other things that just seem more relevant to the way I think and live my life. Because my dad is a security consultant, however, there are also times I cannot turn a blind eye – even when security breaches make my life easier!
One prime example of this is obvious every morning when I go in early for team practice. I usually enter the school through the open front doors and then walk straight into the locker room to get dressed. But more often than not, the coach will forget to open the front doors and instead, my buddies and I are left hung out to dry… or so it would seem.
You see, even if we know the front doors are locked, we also know that because our locker room isn’t air-conditioned, the janitor will open the door that leads out of the locker room. So, after a short walk around the building, we discover that the door is propped open with an orange towel. Unfortunately, the door is also open to dangerous threats, such as vagrants, thieves, vandals and other potential criminals.
Sometimes Security Is Inconvenient
The problem with security breaches like door props is simple – people are human and often think only about their own convenience. If the room is too warm, they will open a window or prop a door. Do you really believe that students and faculty are thinking about security when they do this? Of course not. Why? Because it’s inconvenient, and because they feel safe.
Another thing I’ve noticed in my school is a lack of supervision. I don’t know about schools in general, but it seems especially easy at my school to move around the building without being stopped. Additionally, our hall monitors are all retirees and either out-of-shape or too small. They also walk the same hallways at the same times, so students know these patterns. Some even take advantage of it. Sure, the deans sometimes walk the hallways and, sure, we have a police officer patrolling every once in a while. Despite this, it is all too easy to sneak around my campus. If my school is this easy to move through, I would guess that other schools also have these same problems, maybe even worse.
I’m not proposing an easy fix. I know that this sort of thing can be very difficult to keep in check. But being aware of the dangers is half the battle, and the other half is applying the right prevention measures. Sometimes, however, even if staff members become aware of the security issues they are causing, they will continue their security damaging behaviors until an incident occurs. At that point, paranoia may take over for a while but will gradually fade away into the common thinking of “nothing is going to happen here.”
Safety Requires Putting People First
As for hall monitors, paying retirees to check in late students is fine and good, but it doesn’t do much to bolster the overall security of a high school. Security depends on hiring the right people, training (or retraining) them to enforce the rules and then making sure they don’t develop bad habits that jeopardize campus safety and security.