School safety and security measures
What safety and security measures are used in America's public schools?
Public schools use a variety of practices and procedures intended to promote the safety of students and staff. In the School Survey on Crime and Safety, public school principals were asked about their school's use of safety and security measures and procedures. Certain practices, such as locked or monitored doors or gates, are intended to limit or control access to school campuses, while others, such as metal detectors, security cameras, and limiting access to social networking websites, are intended to monitor or restrict students' and visitors' behavior on campus.
- The use of safety and security measures varied by school level during the 2009-10 school year. In general, higher percentages of high schools than middle or primary schools and higher percentages of middle schools than primary schools reported using the following safety and security measures: drug testing for athletes; drug testing for students in extracurricular activities; requiring students to wear badges or picture IDs; random dog sniffs to check for drugs; random sweeps for contraband, and using security cameras to monitor the school.
- For example, 84 percent of high schools, 73 percent of middle schools, and 51 percent of primary schools reported that they used security cameras to monitor their schools. In addition, the percentages of middle schools (71 percent) and high schools (67 percent) that reported having an electronic notification system for a schoolwide emergency were higher than the percentage of primary schools with such a system (61 percent), and the percentages of middle schools (48 percent) and high schools (46 percent) having a structured, anonymous threat reporting system in place were higher than the percentage of primary schools (30 percent) having such a system in place.
- However, a lower percentage of high schools (86 percent) than middle schools and primary schools (94 percent each) reported controlling access to buildings during school hours, and the percentage of high schools (80 percent) that reported prohibiting the use of cell phones and text messaging devices was lower than the corresponding percentages of primary schools (93 percent) and middle schools (97 percent).
In the 2009–10 school year, 43 percent of schools reported the presence of one or more security guards, security personnel, School Resource Officers, or sworn law enforcement officers at their school at least once a week during the school year. About 28 percent of primary schools reported the presence of one or more security staff at their school at least once a week in 2009–10. Schools were also asked to report whether any of their security staff routinely carried a firearm at school. Twelve percent of primary schools, 25 percent of combined schools, 51 percent of middle schools, and 63 percent of high schools reported the presence of one or more security staff at their schools routinely carrying firearms during the 2009–10 school year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012 (NCES 2013-036).
|Percentage of public schools that used selected safety and security measures, by school level: 2009-10|
|Selected safety and security measures
|Controlled access during school hours|
|Buildings (e.g., locked or monitored doors)
|Grounds (e.g., locked or monitored gates)
|Required to wear badges or picture IDs|
|Faculty and staff
|Metal detector checks on students|
|Required to pass through daily
|Sweeps and technology|
|Random dog sniffs to check for drugs2
|Random sweeps for contraband 2,3
|Electronic notification system for school-wide emergency
|Structured, anonymous threat reporting system
|Use of security cameras to monitor school 2
|Limited access to social networking websites from school computers
|Prohibited use of cell phones and text messaging devices
|Required students to wear uniforms
! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
‡ Reporting standards not met. Either there are too few cases for a reliable estimate or the coefficient of variation (CV) is 50 percent or greater.
Primary schools are defined as schools in which the lowest grade is not higher than grade 3 and the highest grade is not higher than grade 8. Middle schools are defined as schools in which the lowest grade is not lower than grade 4 and the highest grade is not higher than grade 9. High schools are defined as schools in which the lowest grade is not lower than grade 9. Combined schools include all other combinations of grades, including K-12 schools.
One or more checks, sweeps, or cameras.
For example, drugs or weapons. Does not include dog sniffs.
NOTE: Responses were provided by the principal or the person most knowledgeable about crime and safety issues at the school. Respondents were instructed to respond only for those times that were during normal school hours or when school activities or events were in session, unless the survey specified otherwise.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012 (NCES 2013-036), Table 20.2.