After the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, there have been many questions about whether schools are safe places for students and educators. According to a recent nationwide survey, most educators said they feel safe in school and believe that their students do, as well.
School Improvement Network, a company that offers professional development and training for teachers, conducted a survey Jan. 23-29, 2013, asking educators nationwide for their thoughts on guns and school safety. Respondents included 10,661 educators from all 50 states, including 1,674 school or district administrators.
Are Schools Safe?
In response to the question “How safe do you feel in your school?” 92 percent of educators said they feel safe, even after the recent tragedy. Seventy percent believe that their school is either safe or very safe, while 3 percent reported feeling either unsafe or very unsafe.
Ninety-five percent of respondents believe that their students feel safe in schools. One percent said they believe that their students feel unsafe or very unsafe.
However, despite feeling safe, many educators said their schools are not protected from gun violence. When asked “Do you feel your school is a safe place from gun violence?” 69 percent of educators said no.
Ninety percent of educators said that before the Sandy Hook tragedy their schools had safety plans to follow if an armed intruder entered the building; 81 percent of those that did not have such a plan before the shootings have one now.
Security Changes Since Sandy Hook
As for security changes that schools have made in reaction to the Sandy Hook massacre, educator responses indicate that 68 percent of schools have taken steps to increase safety. Thirty-three percent said their schools have added new door-locking systems or other door-related security measures. Twenty-eight percent reported new security procedures, such as more security cameras or new lockdown protocols. Eighteen percent said their schools have done more drills focused on staying safe from armed intruders, and 10 percent said their institutions have added or increased police presence on campus.
Guns in Schools
About one-third of the nation’s schools have armed police on campus, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Sixty-six percent of educators who work at a school with armed guards believe that the guards make the school a safer place.
The National Rifle Association has proposed a program in which every school nationwide would have an armed security guard. Critics argue that armed officers would not stop random acts of violence, and could have a detrimental effect.
When asked “Do you feel that having an armed police officer in your school would improve safety or make your school less safe?” 88 percent of educators said having an armed officer would improve safety, while 12 percent said this change would make the school less safe.
While 36 percent of educators surveyed reported owning a firearm, most educators overall agreed they would not bring a gun or firearm to school.
Seventy-two percent of educators said they would be unlikely to bring a firearm to school if they were allowed to do so, leaving 28 percent who said they would be likely, very likely or somewhat likely to bring a gun to school if allowed.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.
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