Over the past 15 years, Americans have witnessed a sharp upswing in the number of deadly shootings involving elementary, secondary and college-level schools. There have been 387 shootings since 1992 with 59 percent of those victims being between the ages of 10 and 19. The majority of the shooters themselves have been in virtually the same age group. 80% of these violent incidents were committed with weapons obtained from the perpetrator’s home or from a close friend or relative.
In the wake of the deadly school shootings that have occurred recently, schools around the country are implementing new safety tools and protocols to help protect students and teachers. To learn more about school shootings in the U.S. and what’s being done to prevent them, checkout this infographic created by Eastern Kentucky University’s Online Master of Science in Safety, Security & Emergency Management degree program.
On top of these obvious and terrible school security breaches, privacyrights.org reports that over 1.5 million schools experienced a breach, loss or theft of sensitive and private information by computer hackers and other invasions into school information systems. In 2014, Internet search engine giant, Google, said it routinely scanned the email content of students who used Apps for Education, an internet-based method of collaborative study for students. In addition, a recent Fordhan Law School study revealed that numerous American schools share student information with parties outside their districts through cloud-based computing.
What sparks these horrific rampages and intrusions into the private lives of young people and their institutions of learning?
According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics, the arrests of juveniles for violent crimes, such as murder, rape and assault, had declined in the United States from 1993 to 2010. Many school shooters appear to be young people who are withdrawing from or currently taking psychiatric drugs.
These figures may stand on their own merit as somehow involved in the mix of juvenile violence. The issues of privacy and computer pirating of sensitive information may be no surprise as this is a phenomenon in the business world as well. The situations still beg the question, however: how should the country as a whole respond to the upward trends in violence and security breaches which target youngsters in American schools? The crimes directly impact school safety.
Annual spending for school safety in the U.S. was to the tune of $2.7 billion in 2013. That figure is anticipated to increase to $4.9 billion by 2017, with many of those dollars going to security and school access equipment. $300 million was set aside by the federal government over the past 2 years for increasing security in the nation’s schools.
At the state level, millions of dollars are being assigned to school surveillance, classroom barricades, school technology and other student safety accommodations. At the state level, Indiana, Tennessee and Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook shooting occurred, have each spent multi-million dollar sums on school safety.
Out of sheer necessity, schools around the United States are definitely becoming more focused, in philosophy, action and commitment of time, personnel, dollars and physical resources, on the protection of students, their teachers and school-related personnel. Most notably, they are implementing the latest in safety strategies, tools and training.
Schools currently employ approximately 10,000 School Resource Officers (SROs) who are specially trained in the recognition of the triggers of school violence. They also interface with students daily, are armed and watch for gaps in campus security, which could lead to intrusions into school buildings and into district computer systems connected to the Internet via PC, laptop or mobile device such as a tablet. In the classroom and one on one with youngsters, SROs educate youngsters on the dangers of drugs, bullying and other issues which impact the health and safety of the individual and the student body as a whole. Many SROs are retired police officers. The districts or towns in which they work often pay them.
In addition to security provided by trained personnel in the schools, many districts are purchasing access control equipment–voice communication gear and video surveillance cameras that assist administrators, teachers, and staff with the monitoring of who comes into school buildings. Some video cameras in Arlington, Virginia schools are linked directly to the local 911 emergency services and to the desks of their respective School Resource Officers.
The landscape of school safety is definitely changing the United States as the incidence of violence and computer invasions increases at all levels of education.
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