Adding Security, but Subtracting Safety? Exploring Schools’ use of Multiple Visible Security Measures

Abstract

In response to continued concerns over crime and violence, schools are increasingly employing visible security measures such as cameras, metal detectors, and security personnel. These security measures are not mutually exclusive, but few studies have considered the relationship between the use of multiple forms of security and youth’s exposure to drugs, fighting, property crime, and firearms at school. To address this issue, we analyzed nationally representative school administrator-reported data from the School Survey on Crime & Safety, using a quasi-experimental design with propensity scores to adjust for potential confounding factors. The results indicated that utilization of multiple security measures reduced the likelihood of exposure to property crime in high schools, but most other security utilization patterns were associated with poorer school safety outcomes. Our findings provide guidance to policymakers in considering whether to use – or expand – visible school security measures in schools.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Note that all sample sizes have been rounded to the nearest 10, as required by our restricted-use data license agreement with the Institute of Education Sciences.

  2. 2.

    Although the SSOCS surveys include Common Core of Data identification numbers that allow linkage of SSOCS respondents (i.e., schools) longitudinally over time, the national sampling frame of the SSOCS surveys means that the probability is small for overlap of most schools across the four survey years.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U. S. Department of Education, under Grant R305A120181 to Vanderbilt University. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

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Correspondence to Emily E. Tanner-Smith.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 4 Variables used in propensity score estimation model

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Tanner-Smith, E.E., Fisher, B.W., Addington, L.A. et al. Adding Security, but Subtracting Safety? Exploring Schools’ use of Multiple Visible Security Measures. Am J Crim Just 43, 102–119 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-017-9409-3

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Keywords

  • School safety
  • School security
  • School surveillance
  • School violence