Best Practice Guide
The education sector faces escalating safety and security threats
In recent years, the number of safety and security challenges has only increased for educational institutions. Most notably, active shooter incidents have become the new normal, with 2018 breaking grim records going back to the 1970s.
Reports of sexual assault and other forms of violence directed against women are also on the rise, just as social recognition improves and more stringent reporting requirements (for assault and abuse) come online. In parallel, safety issues have morphed in response to stark environmental and social realities, such as the need for climate-conscious building code standards to updated guidelines on supporting campus members with mental or physical disabilities.
In turn, safety and security experts in schools, districts, and campuses increasingly recognize the need to address these issues in a more integrated fashion. After all, the operational mandates of both security and safety personnel are deeply intertwined. Many kinds of campus safety issues cascade into security vulnerabilities, and vice versa.
Take alcohol abuse on campuses, for example. Presumptively, the persistent challenge of binge drinking appears to have its most immediate repercussions on a student’s health and safety (for example, increasing their risk of alcohol poisoning or, surprisingly common, falling from a balcony), a second look quickly highlights the overlap with security issues. In dealing with an inebriated student’s safety, administrators must often, simultaneously contend with criminal liability implications. Indeed, about half of sexual assaults on college campuses involve a situation in which the perpetrator, the victim, or both were consuming alcohol.
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