Top 5 School Security Challenges

School security is a major concern for charter school administrators. If you’ve never run a school before, identifying policies that will keep your staff and students safe can be daunting. Start by understanding and preparing for these top five school security challenges.

Bullying

Bullies find creative ways to remain undetected by teachers, and social dynamics may prevent witnesses from speaking up. Students who are bullied may stay silent out of shame. What can schools do to counter this?

Start with a clear definition of bullying. Educate your teachers to watch out for bullying red-flags. According to stopbulling.gov, these signs may include:

  • Outward signs of aggression
  • A tendency to make excuses or blame others for problems
  • Participation in physical or verbal fights
  • Frequent detentions
  • Possessing unexplained extra money or new things

Next, outline the steps teachers should take. Train teachers on methods for handling suspected cases of bullying. A bullied student may shut down if they’re labeled a victim, and a bullying student may view what they’re doing as harmless and turn defensive. If a quick conversation solves the problem, that’s excellent. But if it doesn’t, the teacher should continue with the steps they’ve been trained to take.

Provide methods for students to anonymously report bullying to school security personnel, administrators, or teachers. Physical bullying is easy to spot, but under-the-radar harassment like cyberbullying may be more difficult to detect and can happen 24/7. By offering communication channels, the school can address online harassment before it escalates.

Behavioral Issues in the Classroom

Behavioral issues negatively impact student performance, teacher morale, and the learning experience of others. They can also escalate or threaten school security if handled poorly.

Seasoned teachers use the following strategies to handle poor behavior in the classroom:

  • Make it clear that you have an issue with the student’s behavior and not the student
  • Be the role model and monitor how you’re responding to the situation to avoid an escalation
  • Design a classroom environment where students feel respected and know they need to take personal responsibility for their actions
  • Provide a forum where students can discuss their issues and concerns
  • Reach out to parents and discuss solutions in a non-judgmental way

Administrators should offer support to teachers dealing with severe behavioral issues. Teachers should not have to spend a significant portion of classroom time acting as both educator and security guard.

Assaults and Fights

While it’s impossible to keep tabs on all student interactions, you can limit the opportunity for arguments to turn into violence.

Employ hall monitors to patrol the halls to ensure students return to class after using the bathroom instead of loitering. Station hall monitors – or teachers – outside the building in the minutes before and after school.

In addition, educate students on the legal consequences of assault as well as how wrong it is to be a bystander or film a fight.

Cybersecurity

School security includes data security. Charter schools can’t afford to ignore cybersecurity for two big reasons:

  1. A cyberattack can halt school activities
  2. Sensitive information may be compromised

Just think about how many of your day-to-day operations rely on computers. If the school’s network is compromised, basic administrative duties grind to a halt. Additionally, information like payroll data and student marks may be held hostage until you pay off the attackers.

Even if you aren’t attacked by what’s known as ransomware, there’s still the issue of compromised data. Your school may store confidential information about teachers, students, or parents. This may include data such as social security numbers, health records, bank account numbers, and more. Exposing sensitive data could open the school to legal repercussions and can have long-term negative effects on the victims.

Attackers are always on the lookout for easy targets with limited protection. Malicious parties prefer to attack data unsuspected, and then sell the information to the highest bidder.

Even if you can’t afford a robust IT team, try to do the following:

  • Train teachers and students on how to recognize suspicious links so that they do not fall victim to scams
  • Update your computer’s anti-virus software diligently. Anti-virus companies regularly release updates to address known vulnerabilities
  • Have a cyberattack response plan in place so you know what steps to take in case of a breach

Theft and Vandalism

Prevent unauthorized access. Secure the school after hours, on weekends, and during holidays. Display trespassing warning signs as well as stickers from your alarm company on first-floor windows.

Implement protocols for entry in and out of the school so that caretakers – and other staff who work outside regular school hours – have access to the building without compromising security.

To prevent theft, keep all valuable materials locked away. This includes laptops, tablets, and audiovisual equipment. This deters theft during school hours and limits the number of valuables a burglar can take if they do gain access to the building after hours.


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