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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2012
NCES 2013-036
2013

Indicator 20: Safety and Security Measures Taken by Public Schools

During the 200910 school year, 93 percent of public schools reported that they had limited the access to social networking websites from school computers, and 91 percent reported that they had prohibited the use of cell phones and text messaging devices during school hours. Forty-three percent of schools reported the presence of one or more security staff at their school at least once a week during the school year.

Public schools use a variety of practices and procedures to promote the safety of students and staff. In the School Survey on Crime and Safety, public school principals were asked about their schools'; 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. Another measure of safety and security at school is the presence of full-time and part-time security staff during the school year.

In the 200910 school year, nearly all public schools reported that they required visitors to sign in or check in (99 percent; table 20.1). Other frequently reported safety and security measures included limiting access to social networking websites from school computers (93 percent), controlling access to school buildings by locking or monitoring doors during school hours (92 percent), and prohibiting the use of cell phones and text messaging devices during school hours (91 percent; figure 20.1). In addition, 63 percent of public schools reported that they had an electronic notification system for a schoolwide emergency, and 36 percent reported that they had a structured, anonymous threat reporting system in place.

The use of safety and security measures varied by school level during the 200910 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;40 requiring students to wear badges or picture IDs; random dog sniffs to check for drugs;41 random sweeps for contraband;41,42 and using security cameras to monitor the school41 (table 20.2). 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). The percentage of high schools (10 percent) that reported requiring students to wear uniforms was lower than the percentages of middle schools (19 percent) and primary schools (22 percent) with such a requirement.

In the 200910 school year, the use of safety and security measures also differed by school enrollment size. Higher percentages of public schools with 1,000 or more students than schools with fewer students reported the use of the following safety and security measures: controlling access to grounds during school hours; drug testing for athletes; requiring students to wear badges or picture IDs; metal detector checks on students (including both random checks and requiring students to pass through checks daily); random dog sniffs to check for drugs; having a structured, anonymous threat reporting system in place; and using security cameras to monitor the school. For example, 56 percent of schools with an enrollment size of 1,000 or more students reported having a structured, anonymous threat reporting system, compared with 38 percent of schools with an enrollment size of 500999 students, 32 percent of schools with an enrollment size of 300499 students, and 28 percent of schools with an enrollment size of less than 300 students.

Locale and the school's percentage of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were also associated with the use of safety and security measures in the 200910 school year. Higher percentages of city schools than schools in suburban, town, and rural areas reported controlling access to school grounds during school hours, conducting random metal detector checks, and requiring students to wear uniforms. For example, 35 percent of city schools reported requiring students to wear uniforms, compared with 19 percent of suburban schools, 10 percent of schools in towns, and 9 percent of rural schools reporting such a requirement. Higher percentages of high-poverty schools (where 76 percent or more students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) than low-poverty schools (where 25 percent or less of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) reported controlling access to school grounds during school hours, requiring students to wear badges or picture IDs, conducting random metal detector checks on students, and requiring students to wear uniforms. For instance, 11 percent of high- poverty schools reported conducting random metal detector checks on students, compared with 1 percent of low-poverty schools reporting such checks.

The percentage of schools using various security measures has changed over time. Between the 1999 2000 and 200910 school years, the percentages of public schools reporting the use of the following safety and security measures increased: controlling access to buildings during school hours (from 75 to 92 percent); controlling access to school grounds during school hours (from 34 to 46 percent); requiring faculty to wear badges or picture IDs (from 25 to 63 percent); using one or more security cameras to monitor the school (from 19 to 61 percent); providing telephones in most classrooms (from 45 to 74 percent); and requiring that students wear uniforms (from 12 to 19 percent) (figure 20.2 and table 20.1). In addition, between the 200708 and 200910 school years, there was an increase in the percentage of schools reporting the use of an electronic notification system for a schoolwide emergency (from 43 to 63 percent) as well as an increase in the percentage of schools that reported having a structured, anonymous threat reporting system (from 31 to 36 percent).

In the 200910 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 (table 20.3).43 The percentage of schools reporting the presence of security staff was not measurably different between 200506 (42 percent) and 200910 (43 percent); however, the percentage of schools reporting the presence of security staff was higher in 200708 (46 percent) than in either 200506 or 200910. Twenty- nine percent of schools reported having at least one full-time employed security staff who was present at least once a week and 14 percent of schools reported having only part-time staff. A lower percentage of schools reported full-time security staff at their school in 200506 (27 percent) than in 200708 (30 percent), while there were no measurable differences between each of these percentages and the percentage reported in 200910 (29 percent). No measurable differences were found across years for the percentages of schools reporting part-time only security staff.

About 28 percent of primary schools reported the presence of one or more security staff at their school at least once a week in 200910. The percentage of primary schools reporting security staff was lower than the percentages of middle schools and high schools reporting the presence of security staff (66 and 76 percent, respectively), but was not measurably different from the percentage of combined schools reporting the presence of security staff. A higher percentage of high schools (62 percent) reported having full-time security staff, than primary schools (16 percent), combined schools (24 percent) or middle schools (46 percent).

Differences in the presence of security staff were also found by other school characteristics. For example, the percentage of city schools that reported the presence of one or more security staff at least once a week during the 200910 school year was higher (51 percent) than the percentages of town schools (39 percent) and rural schools (35 percent). The percentage of suburban schools reporting the presence of security staff (45 percent) was also higher than the percentage of rural schools.

Schools were also asked to report whether any of their security staff routinely carried a firearm at school.44 In 200910, some 28 percent of all schools reported the presence of security staff routinely carrying a firearm. The percentage of schools reporting security staff routinely carrying firearms was higher in 200708 (34 percent) than in either in 200506 (31 percent) or 200910 (28 percent); there was no measurable difference between 200506 and 200910. 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 200910 school year.

This indicator repeats information from the 2011 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report but also includes newly added information on the presence of security staff at school (Table 20.3). For more information: Tables 20.1, 20.2, and 20.3, and Neiman (2011), (http:// nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2011320).


40 Students in extracurricular activities other than athletics.
41 One or more checks, sweeps, or cameras.
42 For example, drugs or weapons. Does not include dog sniffs.
43 "Security guards" and "security personnel" do not include law enforcement. School Resource Officers include all career law enforcement officers with arrest authority, who have specialized training and are assigned to work in collaboration with school organizations. Sworn law enforcement includes sworn law enforcement officers who are not School Resource Officers.
44 The survey item about carrying firearms did not include the term "School Resource Officer" in the question text.


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