Schools are ideally perceived as secure and safe environments. However, this may not be the case anymore.
As the nation faces escalated security concerns, so are all sectors of the society including schools and their immediate communities.
Inversely, budget for security systems or programs are either stagnant if not reduced. Our schools are also quick to suspend classes due to A(H1N1) pandemic scare, oftentimes without consulting the stakeholders, or their crisis management committee, if there is one created.
What should be bothering school administrators and parents should not only be the increasing higher-than-inflation-rate tuition increases and decreasing average test scores, but also the increasing number and seriousness of security-related incidents inside the campuses.
Studies conducted in the United States do not show a particular profile of students who commit crimes inside their campuses. However, psychologists and security professionals agree that tracking behavior of students is better that profiling. But behavior is affected by violence in music, movies, Internet, and video games. Violence at sport events are typical fare already.
Are we too focused on the big items like terrorism and crisis management that we have overlook the concerns of campus security and safety?
Good for big schools in Metro Manila if they have professionals who head their security and safety departments. The current president of Campus Security Management Association of the Philippines, Rico de Guzman, has the passion to make campus security as a specialized field.
But what about the rest of the schools? Is security management left to school administrators and to the fast few men around? This dawned upon me when my daughter reported to me months ago that her digital camera was stolen inside her school’s grounds, specifically, just within the confines of two classrooms. She insisted that it was not simply misplaced or lost because she exercised due care to her priceless photos.
I was tempted to fly home to investigate; she told me instead that her school principal is investigating the case already and no need for me to “get involved.” I just wondered how would the principal handle the task when he may lack training and experience on how to conduct an investigation.
But can a police or security investigator handle investigation of high school students and school premises? Most, if not all, crimes inside school campuses are committed by insiders — students, faculty members and staff even.
The unfortunate incident that occurred inside the Ateneo campus where small children were accidentally ran over by a speeding van, killing a 10-year boy still bothers me. We have public elementary schools along the deadly highways with no shoulders and sidewalks.
It is high time that we as parents look into how our schools are protecting our children while inside their campuses. Hereon, SecurityMatters will maintain a section for Campus Security. We believe that the topics we cover in this issue are merely a fraction of the myriad of security concerns affecting students, schools, and their immediate communities.