Public schools employ a variety of practices and procedures intended to promote the safety of students and staff. While there has been little research on how these practices affect the rate of crime, these measures do show the array of practices that schools use and how frequently they use them. In the School Survey on Crime and Safety, public school principals were asked about the practices that their schools used during the 1999-2000 school year. Certain practices are intended to limit or control the access of people to school campuses, while others are intended to monitor or restrict their behavior once they are on campus using various technologies and tactics such as metal detectors, security cameras, and drug sweeps.
In 1999-2000, during school hours, 75 percent of schools controlled access to school buildings by locking or monitoring doors, and 34 percent of schools controlled access to school grounds with locked or monitored gates (table 20.1). The vast majority of public schools required visitors to sign or check in when entering the school building (97 percent), while few schools required either students or visitors to pass through metal detectors regularly (1 percent each).
Many security measures varied by school level, and not surprisingly, primary schools were generally less likely than middle schools and secondary schools to report using most security measures. While roughly one-quarter of schools required faculty or staff to wear picture IDs, 2 percent of primary schools, 6 percent of middle schools, and 13 percent of secondary schools required badges or picture IDs for students (figure 20.1 and table 20.1). Six percent of schools required clear book bags or banned book bags altogether, but this practice ranged from 2 percent of primary schools to 13 percent of middle schools and 12 percent of secondary schools. Between 3 and 4 percent of primary schools reported performing one or more random metal detector checks on students, using one or more random dog sniffs to check for drugs, and performing one or more random sweeps for contraband not including dog sniffs. In comparison, 15 percent of secondary schools reported random metal detector checks, half reported random dog sniffs, and one-quarter reported random sweeps for contraband. In 1999-2000, 14 percent of primary schools, 20 percent of middle schools, and 39 percent of secondary schools used one or more security cameras to monitor the school.
These practices also varied by school size, location, and other school characteristics. For example, in 1999-2000, urban fringe schools were more likely than city, town, or rural schools to use one or more security cameras to monitor the school (25 percent vs. 14-20 percent), and city schools were more likely than urban fringe, town, or rural schools to perform one or more random metal detector checks on students (16 percent vs. 4-6 percent; table 20.1).
|View Table 20.1|