In the wake of school shootings, governments at the local, state, and federal levels have put significant attention and resources into making schools safer to avert future tragedies. All too often, however, these critical resources are leveraged to integrate more rigid security measures in schools, such as hiring school resource officers (or “SROs”), installing surveillance systems and security devices, and even arming educators and faculty with guns.
While the emphasis toward both visible and physical safety measures is a reasonable approach in the aftermath of such devastating tragedies, the adoption of these measures to prevent school shootings have not been proven to advance safety in education institutions. Additionally, measures like recruiting SROs and installing metal detectors create a less welcoming environment for students.
It is therefore important to look beyond conventional security measures and invest in proven, evidence-based solutions to make school safer. While approaches like violence prevention programs, peer mediation interventions, and teacher training are vital cornerstones, infrastructure improvements can also help prevent school shootings and keep students safe.
Rethinking and Renovating How Schools are Designed
Four years after the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, administrators and architects have evolved their thinking as to how schools are designed. In 2019, a story about a $48 million upgrade of west Michigan’s Fruitport High School went viral due to the design’s emphasis on school shooting prevention. While the renovation won’t be complete till 2021, the new design emphasizes curved hallways that are intended to reduce sightlines for shooters. Additionally, jutting barriers throughout the school are designed to help provide shelter in the instance of an attack.
“If I go to FPH and I want to be an active shooter, I’m going in knowing I have reduced sightlines,” Fruitport Superintendent Bob Szymoniak told The Washington Post about the curved hallways. “It has reduced his ability to do harm.”
Every school will prioritize a safe environment before it can be a place for learning. However, in an era when educators are strapped for school supplies and have to raise money on their own means, the reality of tighter budgets will call for more financially approachable investments.
Securing the Most Vulnerable Point of Entry: Glass Windows and Doors
There’s no question that glass windows and doors are the most vulnerable point of entry in schools. Over the years, there have been many developments to help reinforce glass and prevent unwarranted, forced entry. The most advanced of these solutions are products like DefenseLite™ and BulletShield™.
DefenseLite is a retro-fit security shield that’s mounted onto existing window glazing, which provides significant protection against forced entry attempts. DefenseLite is a heavy-gauge architectural-grade polycarbonate and extruded framing system that’s 250 times stronger than glass alone. It’s been independently tested with a number of blunt force objects like hammers, batons, and hatchets with amazing results.
DefenseLite blends seamlessly with the existing window glazing, making for an invisible layer of protection without moving parts or unsightly reinforcements. While this infrastructure upgrade can certainly improve the level of protection in schools, DefenseLite’s ballistic counterpart BulletShield delivers the ultimate solution.
In addition to keeping intruders out, BulletShield is designed to keep bullets out as well. It’s a UL rated retrofit ballistic shield that’s designed to protect against both natural and human disasters. Unlike other bullet-resistant window treatments, BulletShield has become a leading security glazing solution for schools, as well as other vulnerable applications like courthouses, government buildings, and police stations. It’s been independently tested to provide UL 752 ballistic ratings, preventing breach against 9MM, .44 Magnum, and AR-15 bullets.
Barricading Systems and Lockdown Solutions
Alongside reinforcing glass windows and doors, barricading these points of entry offers additional protection for schools and educational institutions. In fact, The Department of Homeland Security recommends having systems in place to lock and barricade doors when sheltering in place against active shooters. The fact of the matter is, not all barricade systems are created equal.
There are a number of emergency lockdown solutions on the market today, such as The Sleeve from Fighting Chance Solutions as well as Nightlock’s Lockdown units which affix to door frames to prevent access. These systems are effective in deterring forced entry on inward or outward swinging doors, on doors made of both wood or metal. Not only do these barricade systems withstand tremendous force from anyone attempting to enter, but they can be integrated along with additional reinforcements like DefenseLite and BulletShield.
If you’d like to learn more about how to prevent school shootings with infrastructure improvements like DefenseLite and BulletShield, reach out to use via our Contact Page, or give us a call at (866) 933-3456.