School Security Systems: The Ultimate Guide

School security systems ultimate guide

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When children are inside the school premises, educational facilitators and administration are responsible for their safety. For this very purpose, schools use security systems to ensure a safer environment for their child. School security systems use different methods, tools, and techniques designed primarily for the security of students, teachers, visitors, and other staff members. These security systems utilize resources such as surveillance cameras, funding, and physical methods to create a more reliable and up-to-date system for protecting everyone on campus. School security systems are not only important for the children who attend schools but are also essential for the faculty and other staff members present in the buildings.

Communities and educational facilities have started paying closer attention to school security and safety. This blog post entails a descriptive analysis of school security issues and the different types of school security systems used today.

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School Safety and Security Issues

There is an ever-increasing need for educational institutions to step up their security and an undeniable prevalence of emergency situations in schools along with the severity of school violence. During school years, one out of every four students reports getting bullied either physically or emotionally. Yet the majority of students bullied in schools do not report it at all.

Parents and educators worry a lot about the children that they care for, and many people are too terrified to handle difficult situations. Fortunately, school security systems with modernized technology are made to keep children, school staff members, and visitors safe and secure. Widespread violence has become a global threat, and it leads to school security problems at different grade levels in both the smallest and largest of towns and cities. Therefore, it pays well to take school security seriously.

What are different school safety and security issues?

School safety and security issues today include acts of violence, terrorism and social nature. These issues have led to many undesirable and unexpected behaviors such as abuse, sabotage, addiction and school shootings. Based on our research, the major school security problems are:

  • Lack of proper emergency plans
  • Improper evacuation mechanisms
  • Poorly implemented prevention plans
  • Outdated security systems 
  • Fewer security devices installed in schools
  • Lack of understanding of potential security threats

Other violent and harmful acts that might happen in schools include:

  • Victimization
  • Violent crime
  • Fighting and assault
  • Bullying
  • Sexual attacks
  • Thefts
  • Classroom disorder
  • Use of weapons
  • Use of drugs

The lack of understanding, improper infrastructure, and little to no use of security systems have led to many dire consequences in schools. School security problems affect children, teachers, administrators, and parents equally and in a variety of ways, from difficulty in learning to health and the risk of lawsuits.

school security system installation

How do school safety and security issues affect school students?

In the light of the growing security issues, there is a dire need for schools to deal with potential school security problems. School and security issues affect students in many ways. Based on research conducted by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, school security issues directly affect students’ academic performance.

A safer educational environment helps students focus on their studies and grooms them as well. On the other hand, insecure school environments downgrade students’ academic and personal performance.

What should schools do to overcome potential security problems?

To minimize school safety and security issues, schools should install security devices such as metal detectors, surveillance cameras, CCTV, and scheduled parameter checks.

Moreover, schools should also follow an Emergency Operation Plan (EOP) which is a documented guideline for emergency situations. Additionally, schools should ensure proper mechanisms to identify and address any breaches. It is always safe to seek legal help. Schools can team up with the local police for effective damage control.

To learn more, check out this article on School Safety and Security Issues.

Why should there be more security in schools?

A safe and healthy school environment is critical to education. While schools are striving to meet the educational needs of students and the whole community, they are open to every kind of security threat coming from inside and outside of the school. One of the major incidents that affected school security was the attack at Columbine High School in 1999. This terrifying incident prompted schools to invest hundreds of millions in their security.

Schools, which sometimes accommodate a large number of students, teachers, and supporting staff, are compelled to provide a safe environment for everyone on campus. For doing so, schools use various security devices and security systems to deal effectively with antisocial and criminal behavior.

Schools need more security to deter violence and security threats, ensure student and staff safety, handle emergency situations and ensure parents’ peace of mind.

How can schools tackle security issues?

The only way schools can tackle security issues and overcome security threats is to diagnose the problems first hand and then search for system-wide solutions. However, some things might help schools to minimize security problems and create a sound environment. Educational facilities can:

  • Install school security cameras
  • Use video surveillance
  • Place security personnel on the premises
  • Use other security devices

Should schools have security devices?

Yes, schools should have security devices as a monitoring source for tackling violence. Security devices help schools prevent and deal with security threats in a practical manner. It is important for schools to use modernized security devices on the campus and connected grounds to monitor and control the daily routine of students. They also help local law enforcement officials to detect the person who is responsible for damage. Security devices such as CCTV cameras in colleges and schools are used to identify bottleneck areas on the school premises. Additionally, CCTV cameras also help to track down unauthorized access, vandalism, and violence.

To learn more, check out this article on Why Should There Be More Security in Schools.

Security Devices for Schools

Security cameras, video surveillance, guards at all entrances and exits, metal detectors, intercom systems, and alarms are some of the security measures that schools can adopt to keep their campus safe and sound.

Alarms such as burglar alarms can help deter people from breaking into a school in order to steal or commit any other crime. Cameras and detectors act as a first line of defense against intrusion, therefore allowing more time for concerned authorities to respond and effectively handle the situation.

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School security cameras

Just as security cameras can help keep people and property safe in commercial and residential areas, their correct use can also safeguard children and schools. For instance, school security cameras can assist faculty members and administration monitor those present in the school buildings so that they do not commit any crimes, harm other children, or break any rules. According to the 2021 state of security report, nearly 100% of the schools use at least one security camera to maintain security. School security camera statistics by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show that nearly 77.9% of primary schools, 91.5% of middle schools, and 93.6% of high schools use security cameras. In the year 2019, 86% of students aged 12-18 reported the use of one or more security cameras in their schools.

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Burglar Alarm Systems

Burglar alarm systems are designed to detect intrusions and monitor breaches in homes or schools. They do this via sensors and contacts that detect movement and sound an alarm as soon as it is detected. The electrical components and sensors are further connected to the main system. Burglar alarms also use PIR sensors that scan motion within a wavelength invisible to the human eye. Three main steps a burglar alarm goes through are detection, verification, and notification.

Door access control system

School security devices include door access control systems that consist of a controller, door readers, electric locks, and management software. They are designed to track, monitor, and record people moving around the buildings. Door access control systems use credentials such as cards or keyFOB to identify the right person and grant authorized entry.

School bus surveillance cameras

The RFID Based School Bus Tracking and Security System uses video surveillance systems in vehicles. These cameras inside school buses are paired with DVRs or NVRs. This allows the driver to view video footage from all the cameras on a single screen. It allows the driver to monitor inside and outside of the bus and prevent any undesired situation.

To learn more, check out this article on RFID Based School Bus Tracking and Security System.

Fire alarms

Fire alarm systems for schools are used for timely alerts and can detect, monitor, and control fire. They use several devices and control panels to perform these functions. Once a fire is detected, the indicating appliances sound an alarm to notify everyone on the premises. Considered as highly useful security solutions, some fire alarms come with fire suppression systems to fight off the flames until help arrives.

Smoke detectors

Smoke detectors are highly effective school security devices that sense the presence of smoke. Once the smoke is detected, smoke detectors issue a signal to the fire alarm control panel that sounds an alarm to notify authorities and those nearby.

Desk panic buttons

The desk panic button is a school security device mounted under the teller’s desk. Desk panic buttons are usually small buttons typically placed in a discreet location to sound an audible or silent alarm in emergencies. They also maximize the chance of getting safety in the least amount of time.

Vehicle access control (License plate readers)

License plate readers have cameras that deliver high-quality pictures showing the number plate of the traveling vehicle. The information collected from the image can be sent to the police to identify the travel patterns and determine whether the vehicle was at the scene of a crime.

Cabinet locks

Cabinet locks are used to secure cabinets and require a key for them to open. This way, only the person with keys can open the cabinets and the material inside them is completely safe. Cabinet locks in schools can be used on cupboards, enclosures, lockers, and doors.

Improving school safety and security

Guaranteeing a protected environment for education helps to expand school enrolments and supports the nature of administration. There are different dangers that could end up in school facilities every day. It is the utmost responsibility of schools to strengthen and improve their safety and security to provide students with a focused and secure studying environment. Here are a few strategies that could help in improving school safety and security.

How to make schools safer?

Some of the best school security practices to make schools safer are:

  • Install security cameras
  • Install a VMS for CCTV
  • Install burglar alarms
  • Hire a school resource officer
  • Practice lockdown procedure
  • Practice fire drill
  • Practice disaster drill
  • Update first aid kits
  • Train school staff
  • Involve parents

6 effective school security measures - infographic

To learn more, check out this article 11 Tips for Improving School Safety and Security.

School Security cameras and video surveillance in schools

Security cameras and video surveillance systems are an essential part of school security. They are an effective means to monitor school premises and connected grounds 24/7. Moreover, school video security systems help in providing law enforcement agencies with evidence in case of undesirable situations.

Why do schools need security cameras and video surveillance systems?

School security in class through video surveillance systems can help to:

  • Deter violence and potential security threats
  • Monitor and address ongoing bullying issues
  • Discourage vandalism
  • Effectively monitor classroom environments and student/teacher behavior
  • Provide documentation and evidence

What are the different types of school security camera systems?

The three most common types of security cameras that are installed on school campuses are:

  • Bullet security cameras
  • Dome security cameras
  • PTZ security cameras
avigilon bullet camera

Bullet security cameras

Bullet security cameras are capable of capturing higher levels of detail over greater distances. They are designed to work in dim light and are suitable for outdoor settings. They have efficient zoom capabilities and are suitable for large areas such as airports and malls.

avigilon dome camera

Dome security cameras

Dome security cameras are cameras with a dome-like appearance designed for both indoor and outdoor settings. They are highly versatile and capture footage at a wide angle for maximum security.

School Security Systems: The Ultimate Guide

PTZ security cameras

PTZ security cameras are highly adaptable security cameras that have the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom. They automatically zoom in and can track movements with specific configurations. They provide highly detailed footage, capturing most of the surveillance area.

School security cameras in classrooms

Some people may find it absurd to install security cameras in classrooms. However, security cameras are only installed to monitor the behavior of students and teachers and detect security threats. The key benefits of security cameras in classrooms are that they support a professional environment, ensure safety in classrooms, and improve emergency readiness.

To learn more, check out this article School Security Cameras and Video Surveillance in Schools

Laws for School Safety

School safety is an important issue. It is not only essential for students to feel safe in schools but also very important for them to learn and grow. The laws of school security are aimed at making sure school districts provide equal protection of state constitutional rights to students. They complement the school’s safeguard policy and put in place the measures to protect students and address security threats.

However, schools are typically utilized by young students, and for this reason, the laws for school safety require a greater amount of care to be taken in situations where students are present. These laws should form a part of the school policies to ensure the safety and well-being of students. Laws for school safety help minimize potential violations by enforcing a code of conduct. Some of these laws can be explained as follows.

School security systems ultimate guide


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Anti-bullying Laws

Recognizing students’ need for school security, many states have passed anti-bullying laws, including California and Colorado. These laws help standardize security across the board, keeping a strict check on adherence and violation concerns.

First Amendment

The first amendment for school safety protects the rights of every student to speak and think freely. These rights are central to the education process and are essential for all students. The first amendment in schools also protects teachers and allows them to exercise their judgment in accordance with professional standards.

Establishment Clause

The legal definition of this clause states that the Establishment Clause is a provision in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, extended to apply to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits laws from dealing with the establishment of religion. Briefly, the Establishment Law states that schools cannot officially establish religion or unduly favor one religion over another. It is primarily concerned with teachers and staff but not with school students.

CCTV Laws For Schools

CCTV cameras are allowed to be set up in and around the schools for security purposes. They help to deter theft during school closure, reduce bullying, identify unauthorized visitors, and highlight areas of improvement. However, there are some guidelines and laws for the use of CCTV cameras in schools. For instance, some of the CCTV Laws for schools state that they must:

Adhere to the ICO’s Code of Practice:

Schools must follow the Information Commissioner’s Office instructions and directives while using CCTV cameras. To notify parents and students, schools should set up boards and notices to inform them that they are being recorded.

Be A GDPR Compliant:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) relates to how you collect, hold and process personal data. Since CCTV cameras record and collect personal data of staff and students, they must adhere to the necessary rules directed by the General Data Protection Regulation.

To learn more, check out these articles:

Laws for School Safety: Frequently Asked Questions

Laws for School Safety: Frequently Asked Questions (Part 2)


School Video Surveillance Policy

A school video surveillance policy is designed to ensure the legal use of video surveillance cameras following the school security standards. It puts certain restrictions regarding the privacy of students and social norms that need to be accepted. A school video surveillance policy includes reasonable procedures to preserve data related to any incident, which includes violation of school security regulations. Generally, it involves the issues of privacy, fair disclosure and appropriate use of surveillance cameras.

What Should a School Video Surveillance Policy Cover?

A school video surveillance policy works as a great tool in sustaining the safety and security of schools. It regulates the ethical and legal use of video surveillance cameras. There are some important constituents of a school video surveillance camera policy. The policy must:

Address Privacy Issues

Privacy is essential for every individual, may it be a student, teacher or school guard. A school video surveillance policy must not allow the coverage of places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Moreover, it must not allow the recording of any confidential information without the consent of the parties involved.

Authorized Use of Video Camera Surveillance

A school video surveillance policy must prioritize the controlled and limited access to surveillance cameras. Only authorized persons are permitted to access the cameras and recordings. The recorded information must be kept confidential, respecting the privacy of individuals who were recorded.

Avoid Unnecessary Intrusions

A school video surveillance policy must ensure the use of security cameras in such a way that they avoid unnecessary intrusions. It must not intervene in the privacy of students, their freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

Storage and Release of Recorded Material

The storage and release of recorded material are equally important. The school video surveillance policy should devise accurate procedures to keep the recorded material in a secure manner. Additionally, the policy should not release information to people other than the ones authorized by the schools. However, if the information is released, it should not breach anyone’s privacy. Only the required material is released as needed.

To learn more, check out this article on School Video Surveillance Policy.

Security Cameras in Schools Statistics

According to research reports, 80% of public schools and more than 95% of high schools in the United States use security cameras. To know how many schools have security cameras, let’s review some school security camera statistics.

security cameras in schools statistics

What percentage of schools use security cameras?

Following the security needs today, almost 100% of schools have at least one security camera installed in their buildings. Yet, the use of security cameras in any school depends on its location and population. Based on research statistics, 77.9% of primary schools, 91.5% of middle schools and 93.6% of high schools reported using security cameras.

Which schools have a higher number of security cameras?

According to the school security camera statistics, high schools reported the highest use of security cameras on their premises. Aforementioned, 93.6% of high schools use security cameras.

What is the percentage of security camera usage in public schools?

The use of security cameras in public schools has significantly increased over the years. For instance, in the year 1999-2000, only 19% of public schools reported using security cameras. Comparatively, 81% of public schools reported using security cameras in the year 2015-2016.

What is the percentage of security cameras in rural areas and cities?

More schools in cities use security cameras than the schools present in rural areas. Based on the data, 96% of the total schools in cities use security cameras to create an effective learning environment. On the other hand, 84% of schools in rural areas reported using security cameras on their premises. In comparison, schools in rural areas reported less use of security cameras. This might indicate that schools in cities are more exposed to serious and violent crimes either due to a higher number of enrolments or easy access to dangerous equipment.

To learn more, check out more Safety and Security in Schools Statistics.

Security Camera Grants for Schools

School security camera grants can simply be defined as technology grants that cover security systems and associated costs. These are specially allocated to maintain the security of schools. School security camera funding is utilized for security equipment such as alarms, electronic locks, screening machines and core infrastructure. Such funding helps to improve emergency preparedness and response at schools. This also helps in decreasing theft and potential crimes. School security camera grants are awarded for schools across the States to improve their security.

Security grants for schools include funding for different purposes. These may include funding for security training and the purchase and installation of surveillance systems. Some of the most trusted and sought after school security camera grants are:

School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP)

The School Violence Prevention Program is a federal program that is supported by the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. It provides schools with security camera grants and other funding required to upgrade and maintain their security systems. SVPP covers up to 75% of funding for school security measures and provides school security improvements through enhanced technology. Additionally, it also improves the coordination between schools and law enforcement agencies. The SVPP awarded roughly $25 million in grant funding for the fiscal year 2019.

Students, Teachers, and Officers Prevention (STOP) School Violence

Inaugurated in 2018, STOP has set aside $75 million for each fiscal year till 2028 and nearly $50 million for yearly grants. This funding is specialized for violence prevention programs, implementation of technology and education on violence prevention. Almost two-thirds of the funding supports violence prevention programs and anonymous reporting through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. A third of the funding is allocated to school security equipment and technology. The STOP School Violence award is also used for purchasing and installing school security cameras.

Michigan State Police Competitive School Safety Grant Program (CSSGP)

The Michigan State Police Competitive School Safety Grant Program is a local government grant that provides funding to schools in Michigan. The Michigan legislature provides $10 million to Michigan Police and Grants and Community Service to award grants to public and immediate school districts. This ultimately pays for access control systems, intercom systems, alert systems and public address systems. However, items may change every year.

How to apply for these grants?

To apply for school security camera grants you need to:

  • Check the federal government’s database
  • Reach out for organizations
  • Write an application

What are the tips for securing fundings from these programs?

To secure funding from these programs you should:

  • Look out for local or state grants
  • Have agreements prior to your application
  • Take steps to prove that you are capable of the award
  • Be aware of regional preferences in case of federal grants

To learn more, check out this article on Security Camera Grants for Schools.

Facts About Armed Guards in Schools

As mentioned above, schools use a variety of methods to protect students, staff members and visitors. In addition to the use of modern integrated technology for this purpose, schools also have one or more armed guards present on their premises and connected grounds to deter violence and counter unnecessary situations. The presence of armed guards in school premises is often equated with sustaining the peace and order on campus and preventing any mishaps that may occur. However, not all schools consider having armed guards but may prefer security systems with modern integrated technology. To analyze the existing situation of armed officers within educational facilities, here are some facts about armed guards in schools.

What is the difference between security staff and armed guards?

It is important to understand the difference between security staff and armed guards. Security staff in schools usually do not carry firearms. However, armed guards are the ones that routinely carry firearms.

What percentage of schools in total have security staff and armed officers present in their buildings?

According to research statistics of the year 2013 to 2014, 43% of all public schools had one or more security staff present in their buildings. However, in the year 2015 to 2016, this number increased to 56.5%. On the other hand, facts about armed guards in schools from 2009 to 2010 show 28.0% of all schools had armed security guards present in their buildings. Fortunately, modern technology has significantly reduced this percentage as it has proven to be very reliable. For instance, the percentage of armed officers has decreased from 34.1% and 30.7% in 2007 to 2008 and 2005 to 2006 respectively.

What percentage of primary schools have armed guards present in their buildings?

According to the facts about armed guards in schools, 12.5% of primary schools had armed guards present in their buildings in the year 2009 to 2010. However, statistics show a significant decrease in this percentage over the years. For instance, in the year 2007 to 2008, 20.1% of primary schools had armed guards present in their buildings. Comparatively, 15.7% of primary schools had armed guards present during 2006 to 2007.

What percentage of middle schools have armed guards present in their buildings?

In comparison to primary schools, middle schools have reported a higher percentage of armed officers. The research statistics show that from 2009 to 2010, 51.0% of middle schools reported having security officers routinely carrying a firearm. However, 54.2% and 51.8% of middle schools had armed guards in middle schools in 2007 to 2008 and 2005 to 2006 respectively.

What percentage of high schools have armed guards present in their buildings?

In the year 2009 to 2010, 50.1% of high schools reported having at least one or more armed officers present in their buildings. However, this percentage has decreased from the year before. For instance, in the year 2007 to 2008, 54.9% of high schools reported having armed officers compared to 51.8% of high schools in the year 2005 to 2006.

How many schools in cities have armed guards as compared to towns?

Facts about armed guards in schools show that schools located in cities have a relatively higher percentage of armed guards present in their buildings than schools located in towns. Analyzing this in numbers, in the year 2009 to 2010, 27.6% of schools located in cities reported having armed guards, 33.1% in 2007 to 2008, and 30.5% in 2006 to 2006. Comparatively, 31.6% of schools in towns reported having armed guards in the year 2009 to 2010, 45.0% in 2007 to 2008, and 38.1% in 2005 to 2006.

What percentage of schools located in rural areas have armed officers?

In the year 2009 to 2010, 25.3% of rural areas reported having armed guards in their buildings. Furthermore, 33.1% of schools from 2007 to 2008 and 27.1% of schools in 2005 to 2006 reported the presence of armed officers in their premises. These statistics indicate a much lower percentage when compared to schools located in cities.

To learn more, check out this article on Facts About Armed Guards in Schools Statistics.

School Security Questions and Answers

School security can be a complicated topic that many parents, faculty and students have questions about. Let’s go through some of the most frequently asked school security questions that we were able to collect.

How long do schools keep camera footage?

Schools usually keep the recorded footage for at least 30 days. This is because there is no one monitoring cameras for an extended period, so it becomes essential for the schools to keep camera footage for this duration. Although 30 days is the typical time for keeping CCTV footage, there is no set limit to how long footage is kept in schools.

Can schools put cameras in classrooms?

The simple answer to this question is yes, schools are allowed to put security cameras in classrooms. To some people, it may be an invasion of privacy, but schools are authorized to install security cameras in classrooms and other places except the ones where there is any reasonable expectation of privacy.

What is the cost of school security systems?

Each school security system has a different price. A full school security system for an elementary school would cost an estimated amount of $20,000 to $30,000. However, for a large school with connected grounds, a school security system can cost as high as $200,000.

Do schools check cameras on weekends?

Schools do not watch cameras all the time. They might check them to monitor the situation on the school premises or to look out for evidence in undesirable situations. However, there is no fixed time for schools to check security cameras.

What do school cameras look like?

Most school security cameras utilize IP cameras, which can either be wired or wireless over a computer network. They might be in the form of small devices installed inside the rooms that are monitored.

Do school security cameras record audio?

Though security cameras are installed both inside and outside of the schools and would typically do video surveillance 24/7, laws have very strict regulations for audio recording. For this reason, many security cameras may not support audio recording.

How much do schools spend on security?

Schools spend a heavy amount on their security systems to keep students out of danger. Records show that nationally, public schools spend nearly $795 million on security each year. The analysis of this spending amounts to $19.28 per person each year.

School security systems ultimate guide


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