September 21, 2022
By Craig Cable, Director of Ministry Safety, ACG Colorado
One of the many perks of serving in law enforcement is that I often have access to studies and reports that are not widely distributed in the public sector. I recently received a study called the "2022 State of School Safety Report," which was sent to all the school resource officers in our region. The report was sponsored by a national non-profit organization called Safe and Sound Schools. This annual report measures perceptions of safety among four key stakeholder groups: students, parents, public safety, and educators.
I recognize that public schools and parochial schools have their distinct challenges, but I thought this report may be able to serve as a starting point in your research to determine how your students are feeling about their safety.
Based on the findings in this report, I would like to offer the following tips to help your students feel safer when they are in your care.
TIP #1 – Have visible safety measures in place
Having tangible and visible safety measures in place goes a long way toward building confidence in students, parents, and staff. From security cameras and visitor access controls to identifiable safety monitors walking the property and halls, a visible presence not only instills a sense of safety at your school but also serves as a deterrent from those that wish to harm.
TIP #2 – Your preparedness goes a long way towards building confidence
According to the study, 86 percent of educators agreed that their school was prepared for a wide range of safety issues. That is a stark contrast to the 71 percent of students polled who felt that their school was really prepared. While some may feel that talking about a school's emergency action plans may create unnecessary anxiety in the minds of their students, it has been my experience that students want to know that you have thought through contingency plans and are prepared on their behalf.
TIP #3 – Don't be single threat-focused
While the concern over a school active shooter threat is often the primary focus of school security concerns, the report reveals that students have a much lower preparedness confidence score when it comes to other safety-related issues. Be sure that your safety plans include such things as bomb threats, bullying/cyberbullying, sexual abuse, aggression/discrimination, and substance abuse.
In closing, I encourage you to download the report and discuss its findings with your staff, volunteers, parent groups, and students. Having a safe school is an "all-in" commitment from all the school's stakeholders. I would also encourage you to consider developing your own survey to see how this report's findings compare to your findings. Lastly, this is not a one-and-done effort. The survey that drove the findings in this report was compiled before the Uvalde school shooting. Highly publicized incidents can and often will drive short-term perceptions. Take these opportunities to reengage students and parents in an open discussion about preparedness when those incidences occur.
If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Craig is a sworn peace officer and serves as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for the patrol division at the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. has trained hundreds of security team leaders and volunteers and was the lead developer of the Safe and Secure & Church: The Ministry Approach training kit produced in partnership with Group Publishing and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.
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