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Security Concepts and Operational Issues
(Chapter 1   The Big Picture, Continued)

The role of order maintenance

One additional consideration that cannot be overlooked is the perception of a lack of order on a school campus. If a school is perceived as unsafe (i.e., it appears that no adult authority prevails on a campus), then "undesirables" will come in, and the school will actually become unsafe. This is an embodiment of the broken window theory: one broken window left unrepaired will encourage additional windows to be broken. Seemingly small incidents or issues such as litter on a school campus can provide the groundwork for (or even just the reputation of) a problem school. Issues of vandalism and theft can be almost as harmful to a school as actual violence because they can create a fertile environment for loss of control and community confidence.

Exhibit 1.11Issues contributing to a school's overall order maintenance must therefore be taken seriously, not unlike any other public facility. Reducing theft, deterring vandalism and graffiti, keeping outsiders off campus, keeping the facility in good repair, improving poor lighting, maintaining attractive landscaping, and getting rid of trash are all important to school security (exhibit 1.11).

Technologies such as cameras, sensors, microdots (for identifying ownership), and antigraffiti sealers can contribute significantly in many (but not all) situations and are possible approaches to further support a school's order maintenance.

Too often school districts undervalue the ultimate importance of reliable and conscientious maintenance, janitorial, and groundskeeping staff. Their ultimate contribution to the order maintenance of a school can be enormous. Additionally, the janitorial staff needs to be selected with almost the same care as the teaching staff because they have great access to and knowledge of a school facility. Contracting out this work without complete background checks of all workers can lead to many problems in the long run.

 



Research Report:   The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools