The security within and about schools, daycare, colleges and places harboring minors/educational institutions, has become an issue of national/ worldwide concern, due to the current realities of the world including kidnapping, terrorist attacks, bullying, school shootings. Sexual exploitation, vandalism and other issues putting the life of children/minors, teachers and parents at risk.
The April 2014 militant attack and kidnapping of 276 female students from Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Benue State despite aging of the event remains fresh in our mind including its impact on the society. Also, the recent abduction of seven (7) students from Prince Academy in Damba-Kasaya Village in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State is another event which reminds us of our currents realities as a society, thus the need for security around schools or centres housing minors.
In several schools, daycares and educational institutions, outsiders have unrestricted access to the premises, as access control and general security is not considered a priority and this include unverified persons picking up students, while claiming to have been sent by the parents/guardian, using the school premises as a shortcut route, sharing premises with other public facilities etc. This is enabled by the absence of access control, sighting of the institution (e. g sighting a school at a very crowded bus stop) etc. In some other institutions, there is the excessive use/presence of some aspects of security and the neglect of the others.
Below are some tips for to ensure adequate security within and about school or education institutions:
Access Control: Many schools lack a front desk/ reception area to monitor the entry and exit of individuals to the premises and this allows intruders have contact with students. It is then imperative that school administrators invest in installing and employing the right entry/ access control system.
The system seeks to monitor and ensure only authorised individuals have access to the school premises, ensure prohibited or harmful objects are not brought in, ensure there is a record of individuals within the premises at any given time, serve as a deterrence to bullying and sexual violation of minors.
Surveillance: Considering the rise in bullying, sexual violations, classroom disorders, assaults, weapon detection and inappropriate behavior within the school premises, it is imperative that a standard surveillance system is present to act as a deterrent and also take record/ bear witness of activities within the premises for audit sake and to ensure the culprits of the actions guarded against are brought to book.
Hardening of the Classrooms and Other Congregational/ Common Areas: The classroom, library, cafeteria, assembly grounds and other common areas or congregational areas are the most targeted. It is therefore important that those are made as safe as possible and often a shelter place.
- Such areas should have windows to allow for observation of the surroundings, while also preventing those outside from seeing inside the classroom.
- The doors should be lockable from inside the classroom, easily to lock and open, and have a simple additional extra lock for extra delay to the attacker.
- There is need for bulletproof spaces in the event of shootout or militant attacks. While this is expensive, there is the need to provide an area of concealment, which is a place of safety for the students and teachers.
- School administrators are advised to ensure students and teachers undergo self defence training.
Also, an escape plan in the event of violence or security breach must be communicated, taught, practiced and reviewed regularly to students and staff.
Incident Response: Schools and educational institutions must have an on-site rapid response to cases of violence on the premises.
- It is advised that school administrators have on speed dial the number to the closest police station and other emergency response agencies.
- Internal response arrangement should be available and accessible by every student or teacher e.g. alarm system, speaker system etc.
- Private security personnel should also be within the premises to attend to outbursts, disorderly behavior or unauthorized access etc.
Anticipatory response: To reduce the risk of school violence, it is imperative that administrators are preemptively:
a) educate students and teachers on safety b) provide training on self- defence, c) ensure adequate surveillance within and around the school premises d) call the attention of law enforcement to suspicious movements or actions e) investigate rumors, anonymous posts, uncharacteristic/sudden misbehaviour or change in behavior by students or staff f) promote whistleblowing g) and respond to red flags from students or constant appearance of individuals who seemingly have no cause to be around the premises.
Training on response to shootouts and other forms of violence must be conducted.
Students must be taught to see warning signs.
Bespoke provision: Security and safety apparatus installed must be tailored to fit the specific needs of the institution, considering the age and ability of the students and staff. It must be easy to access and use by the least active student.
Also, apparatus must be aesthetically pleasing and create a feeling of safety and not fear in the heart of the students, to elicit willing to learn, adopt and use easily.
Routine risk assessment must be conducted to ensure apparatus/ gadgets installed are working appropriately and to optimum, to ensure they fit the realities of the current world and students and teachers etc.
Monitoring resumption and exit transport or movement of students to prevent cases of kidnapping.
School security is a very important aspect of the learning process and schools must immediately begin to employ various systems. The tips above are not exhaustive but rather, give an insight to the various things to be considered in adopting a security system for each school.
School administrators are hereby enjoined to employ the services of security experts in carrying out a risk assessment within the school premises, make recommendations on bespoke and effective solutions, and adopt the use of the recommendations.
At Hoganguards Limited, we are experts in security and almost 40 years wealth of experience makes us the best choice in carrying out your risk assessment.