The safety and academic success of students are closely linked. Several studies support the significant impact of safety on academic performance, including this one, which found that increasing perceived safety in schools boosted achievement on standardized math and reading tests from 16 to 22 percent. Unfortunately, safe schools and college campuses are not a given. Rather, they require effective policies, open reporting resources, and the cooperation of the faculty, staff, and students who make up the campus community.
Many security and safety measures are already in place on American college campuses, including security cameras and controlled access to buildings—but without an effective strategy for reporting and responding to suspicious activity, these measures may not be enough to effectively prevent incidents. In part one of this two-part series, Improving Campus Security and Safety: The 5-Step Approach, we outlined five steps for improving security and safety in schools:
- Define the problem
- Identify threats and preventative factors
- Develop and test prevention strategies
- Advocate widespread adoption
- Continue to measure and adapt
Subscribing to this five-step program helps campus security departments maintain standard security procedures and foster community-wide awareness of those policies. Consistency and familiarity help minimize confusion, reduce mistakes in dangerous situations, and increase the probability of successful outcomes.
Many colleges have safety or security departments in place to address campus security—but administrators still play an important role in establishing the five-part lifecycle. They should set clear goals, enforce policy, and provide input and support in the development and implementation of any security program. Along with gaining insight, developing new strategies, and building awareness, the five-step approach for improving security and safety on college campuses involves implementing the right technology and training programs.
Tools and Technology
Incident reporting tools can be valuable assets to campus security departments and administrators in every stage of the five-step approach. Reporting tools enable faster detection, prevention, and response. Benchmark analysis tools and comparative data can help measure progress and address a variable security landscape.
However, administrators and security personnel often implement incident reporting software that is not equipped to effectively track security incidents. Successful outcomes require the adoption of a comprehensive incident reporting and security management solution.
Look for a fully, integrated security platform that offers streamlined data collection, reporting, and analysis. The best solutions enable campus staff and security personnel to focus on prevention, without sacrificing visibility or inhibiting ongoing intelligence efforts.
Successful security and safety strategies require a combination of physical and technological training. Proficiency in both improves the outcomes of dangerous situations, because the practiced response becomes instinctive and better coordinated.
Additionally, the campus community is more likely to use reporting tools and follow procedures when they're well-trained on how to use them. When campus security departments highlight the tools and training programs available and promote a culture of participation and awareness, students and faculty become more invested in the program's success. This will not only lead to improved overall safety but also to increased academic success across the board.
When administrators and campus security departments work hand in hand to create a culture where security and safety is a priority, students will be less likely to fear for their personal safety while on campus. Having a better sense of security frees up their attention to focus on studying, making friends, and participating in extracurricular activities.
How To Improve Campus Security and Safety with Strategy and Software
In the United States, student exposure to traumatic events is not new or rare. Even if a traumatic event has yet to occur on your campus, that doesn't mean it can't happen—and prevention should always be the number one priority. The bottom line is: focusing on campus security and safety is critical.
Improving campus security and safety is a matter of adopting the five-step approach, and then supporting the initiative with campus-wide safety training and a comprehensive suite of reporting tools. To increase security measures and prevent incidents, develop a better understanding of your campus's unique vulnerabilities, implement community-wide security and safety procedures, and supplement those policies with training and technology.