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Safe Campus Program

Our educational institutes are facing new breed of security challenges. Anti-social and criminal behaviour is not unusual and can take place within the educational compound, car parks or the student union areas, and access to the campus is open. Terrorism is adding another dimension to the existing quandary.
    Unfortunately, schools are often overwhelmed with conflicting priorities and security gets pushed to the bottom of the list. To administrators, schools short on teachers and staff or without books or proper facilities seem to be a higher priority than solving a few security problems. The crime and discipline data indicates that 80-90% of the security problems are caused by 10-15% of the student population and non-students. More than one administrator has commented that school won't expend vast personnel and financial resources for additional security for few troublemakers? But when an incident does occur, money is thrown all around to fix the problem.
Q. What is the safe campus program?
PD: A safe campus program is a focused initiative by Howell to keep our children safe; a dedicated program for the security and safety of our students and institutes, whether it is a school, collage, technical institute, university or for that matter any educational institute.
Q. Why is school security and safety important?
PD: School and collages safety is necessary for learning to occur, education being able to continue without disruption, without harm, without danger. School safety and security is paramount. It is basically the best way to deal with many issues the schools are facing today.

Q. What are common threats to our educational institutes whether school or collages?
PD: The common threats are campus violence, raging, bullying, gangsters, weapons, drugs, truancy and harsh behaviour of teachers towards kids. Across the country educational institutes are facing these issues in one way or other. Schools and collages remain soft targets for the terrorist groups. Therefore, it is advisable that schools should have all-hazard approach to ensure safety of students.

Q. What is the most efficient way to develop a safe campus?
PD: The efficient way to develop a safe campus is to have written safety plan. The first thing that's important to understand is that plans have to be customised and tailored to your institute. Every educational institute has its own set of challenges and issues to deal with. We can’t copy a plan or buy a plan from somewhere else. We need to develop a specific security plan to meet the requirements of a particular educational institute. The institutes also need to consult the police, fire service, emergency management and local public health that will come to their aid during a crisis.
      Do a vulnerability assessment of your campus and the environment around it to make sure that your plans address your local risks.

Campus safety plan has four components
1.        Written prevention and mitigation plan.
2.        Preparedness plan
3.        Response plan
4.        Recovery plan
Q. How often should a safety plan be evaluated?
PD: School safety plans should be thoroughly evaluated at least once a year.

Q. What role do teachers play in school safety?
PD: Teachers have a crucial role to play in school safety. Right from teaching to supervision of students they are the real guardian of the students. We know the vast majority of incidents, be they weapons assault, bullying, drug violations or sexual incidents that occur in schools, involve a lack of proper supervision. So the first thing is for teachers to learn the techniques of supervision, to be motivated to supervise. The second thing is an extension of that supervision which including building a personal bond with students.

Q. What role do administrators play in security and safety of student?
PD: Administrators provide leadership role and set the tone for security and safety of institute. Administrators must decide whether they're going to make things happen for children or let things happen to them. They are the strategist; the decision makers. Therefore the responsibility lies on their shoulders to devise a clear and effective security plan for the school.

Q. Do you think that electronic security and safety system can help to address these issues?
PD: Electronic security and safety system for example CCTV, access control, fire alarm, medical emergency system and simple emergency evacuation signage are best gadgets to ensure safety and security of children. There are number of cases where these electronic devices have helped the authorities to deal with security issues.