Because schools have limited budgets when it comes to making safety improvements, it’s important to consider how to invest our dollars in a way that allows us to achieve our objectives and get the most impact for our money.
We already know that restricting building access and requiring sign-in procedures at the front entrance can go a long way toward keeping danger out of our buildings. We also know that security cameras can be very useful, if they are monitored.
What may be news, is that there are certain locations and times that have historically been linked to higher rates of violence in schools.
The most dangerous times for schools:
Most school-associated violent deaths occur during transition times – immediately before and after the school day, and during lunch periods.
School-associated violent deaths are more likely to occur at the beginning of a semester.
- We also want to be alert to anniversary dates of well-known incidents of school violence, as those planning a similar attack have been known to choose these dates to act. Currently, we are approaching the 4-year anniversary of the horrific violence that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, on December 14, 2012.
Grade level distribution:
School-associated violent deaths that occurred between 1992 and 2010 (National School Safety Center) were distributed as follows:
- 311 at the high school level, 71 at the middle school level, 52 at the elementary level, and 16 at alternative education facilities (no grade level stated). Clearly, no grade level is exempt.
The most dangerous locations in your school:
Homicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 5-18. Data from the National School Safety Center study indicate that between 1% and 2% of these deaths happen on school grounds or on the way to or from school.
- Of school-associated deaths identified in the study, 105 occurred near school, 98 occurred on campus, 52 in the school parking lot, 52 in a classroom or office, 51 in a hallway, 31 in a bathroom or locker room, 28 on the athletic field or gym, 27 on the bus or at the bus stop, 11 in the school cafeteria, 7 in the school library, and 6 on the playground.
It is clear from this data that we need all staff members on board when it comes to vigilance during the transition times that occur each day. It’s also important to issue reminders to stay alert during semester changes and anniversary dates of prior school violence incidents.
If you’re not sure what school staff members need to watch for, read this.
With first semester wrapping up soon, and the beginning of the second semester just around the corner, this is a good time to remind everyone about these facts. Don’t forget to include your specific procedures for reporting and intervening when there are troubling signs.
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National School Safety Center 1992-2010 data