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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2010
NCES 2011-002
November 2010

Indicator 20: Safety and Security Measures Taken by Public Schools

During the 2007–08 school year, 43 percent of public schools reported that they had an electronic notification system for a school-wide emergency and 31 percent of public schools reported that they had a structured, anonymous threat reporting system.

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 drug sweeps, are intended to monitor or restrict students’ and visitors’ behavior on campus.

In the 2007–08 school year, nearly all public schools required visitors to sign in or check in (99 percent) (table 20.1). Other frequently reported safety and security measures included prohibiting all tobacco use on school grounds (91 percent of public schools) and controlling access to school buildings by locking or monitoring doors during school hours (90 percent of public schools) (figure 20.1 and table 20.1). Forty-three percent of public schools reported that they had an electronic notification system for a school-wide emergency and 31 percent of public schools reported that they had a structured, anonymous threat reporting system. One percent of public schools required students to pass through metal detectors daily.

The use of safety and security measures varied by school level during the 2007–08 school year. In general, a greater percentage of high schools than middle schools and primary schools, and a greater percentage 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;39 requiring students to wear badges or picture ID’s; daily metal detector checks on students;40 random dog sniffs to check for drugs;39 random sweeps for contraband;39 ,41 and security cameras to monitor school39 (table 20.2). For example, 19 percent of high schools, 14 percent of middle schools, and 3 percent of primary schools reported that students were required to wear badges or picture IDs. However, a smaller percentage of high schools than middle or primary schools reported controlling access to buildings during school hours and requiring students to wear uniforms. A greater percentage of middle schools reported having an electronic notification system for a school-wide emergency (49 percent) than primary schools (43 percent) or high schools (44 percent).

In general, a higher percentage of schools with 1,000 or more students than schools with fewer students reported the use of each safety and security measure (the exceptions were controlling access to the building during school hours, drug testing for students in extracurricular activities, and requiring students to wear uniforms). For example, 56 percent of schools with 1,000 or more students had an electronic notification system for a school wide emergency, compared to 49 percent of schools with 500–999 students, 41 percent of schools with 300–499 students, and 31 percent of schools with less than 300 students.

The percentage of schools using various security measures has changed over time. Between the 1999–2000 and 2007–08 school years, there was an increase in the percentage of public schools reporting the use of the following safety and security measures: controlled access to the building during school hours (from 75 to 90 percent); controlled access to school grounds during school hours (from 34 to 43 percent); students required to wear badges or picture IDs (from 4 to 8 percent); faculty required to wear badges or picture IDs (from 25 to 58 percent); the use of one or more security cameras to monitor school (from 19 to 55 percent); the provision of telephones in most classrooms (from 45 to 72 percent); and the requirement that students wear uniforms (from 12 to 18 percent) (figure 20.2 and table 20.1). Between the 2003–04 and 2007–08 school years, there was an increase in the percentage of schools reporting the drug testing of student athletes (from 4 to 6 percent) as well as an increase in the percentage of schools reporting the drug testing of students in other extracurricular activities (from 3 to 4 percent).

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39 Students in extracurricular activities other than athletics.
40 One or more check, sweep, or camera.
41 For example, drugs or weapons. Does not include dog sniffs.

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