Six things administrators can do to enhance the safety of their schools … two key ways to prevent bullying from occurring … how to control access to school buildings more effectively: These are some of the many nuggets of wisdom served up in a new eSchool News blog on school security.
Written by Patrick Fiel, public safety adviser for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of security for the Washington, D.C., Public School System, the blog offers valuable school safety insights every Tuesday and Thursday.
Fiel—who learned how to protect stakeholders’ safety during his 22 years of service in the Army Military Police Corps, where he had special assignments to the Pentagon, NATO headquarters in Belgium, and the West Point Military Academy—has been a go-to source for the media on public safety issues. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
In his blog for eSchool News, Fiel gives his perspective on a number of school security issues. Already, he’s written about bullying, keeping intruders off campus, mass notification systems, how to maintain your security investment, and how to receive a free risk assessment, among other topics.
On the subject of bullying, Fiel says a new Massachusetts law that requires school staff to report incidents of bullying to the principal, who must notify the parents of both the victim and the bully, is a good first step that should be followed in the other 49 states.
“But there are a couple of things missing here,” he writes.
“First, all schools should have hotlines that allow anyone to anonymously report incidents of bullying or violence. And schools need to make sure they have surveillance cameras in hallways, stairways, lunchrooms, locker areas, playgrounds, and outside restrooms, where bullying is most likely to occur.”
He explains: “Often, charges of bullying get down to a ‘he-said, she-said’ situation. Having recorded evidence of incidents can break that potential logjam.”
In another blog entry, Fiel observes that while everyone involved with schools has a role in keeping them safe, it is the administrators who can have the largest effect.
He describes six ways administrators can make a difference, including building strong relationships with local law-enforcement officials; paying attention to the best practices, policies, and procedures in place on other campuses; and encouraging parents to get involved in their children’s safety. (For the rest of his advice to administrators, click here.)
In one of his most recent posts, Fiel shares the results of a Zogby poll of 400 teachers and their feelings about school security.
When asked what security measures their school employs, the teachers most frequently mentioned visitor check-in (90 percent); visitor identification badges (80 percent); video cameras (57 percent); police officers on campus (32 percent); alarmed doors (32 percent); security guards on campus (28 percent); and computerized visitor identification systems (12 percent).
“Over my next few [blog entries], I’ll take a look at some of the security measures listed above and give my opinion on how useful they are in protecting our kids,” he writes.
Other advice from Fiel includes a lesson in why Twitter isn’t reliable for emergency notification, and a suggestion to preserve your investment in security technologies by getting a maintenance agreement with an experienced system integrator.
“It’s really not much different than taking your car to the mechanic for regular checkups,” he notes.