10 Best Types of School Security Systems: Complete Guide

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Educational facilitators and administration are responsible for their safety when children are inside the school premises. For this very purpose, schools use security systems to ensure a safer environment for their child.

These school security solutions utilize resources such as surveillance cameras, funding, and physical methods to create a more reliable and up-to-date security system for protecting everyone on campus.

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.

Download your free copy of the guide to keep in your back pocket. Or, if you’re ready to dive in, continue your journey below.

Top 10 Types of Security Systems For Schools

1. School Security Cameras

Just as security cameras can help keep people and property safe in commercial and residential areas, their correct use can safeguard children and schools.

For instance, 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 2023 State of Security report, nearly 100% of the schools use at least one 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.

school camera installed on cieling

2. Burglar Alarm Systems

Burglar alarm systems for schools are designed to detect intrusions and monitor breaches.

Sensor alarms and contacts detect movement and sound an alarm as soon as it is detected, then notify relevant authorities. The electrical components and sensors are further connected to the central system.

Burglar alarms also use PIR sensors that scan motion within a wavelength invisible to the human eye. The three burglar alarm goes through three main steps: detection, verification, and notification.

3. Door Access Control Systems

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 during school hours.

Door access control systems for schools use credentials such as cards or key fobs to identify the right person and grant authorized entry.

Campus security systems like door access control are effective school lockdown procedures since they can access door locks and send real-time alerts to authorities.

A school access control system is widely installed in security checkpoints, doors, and gates to secure the environment quickly.

Keyless entry systems and smart locks widely help lockdown procedures and visitor management, as authorized personnel can enter and exit the school premises.

4. School Bus Surveillance Cameras

The RFID-based School Bus Tracking and Security System uses vehicle video surveillance systems. 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.

Check out this RFID-based School Bus Tracking and Security System article to learn more.

5. Fire Alarm Systems

Based on local building codes, school fire alarms are used for timely alerts and can detect, monitor, and control fires. 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 beneficial security solutions, some fire alarms come with fire suppression systems to fight off the flames until help arrives.

6. 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.

7. Desk Panic Buttons

The desk panic button is a school security device mounted under the teller’s desk. Desk panic buttons are usually small 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.

8. 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 crime scene.

9. 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.

10. Security Teams

Aside from perimeter alarms, security systems, and security hardware, security teams implement security measures and monitor security solutions on the school and university campuses.

These teams promote a safe learning environment by securing the educational institution and its people.

School Safety & 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 solutions 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 most significant 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 primary 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 various ways, from difficulty learning to health and the risk of lawsuits.

school security system installation

How do school security and safety issues affect school students?

In 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. According to NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development research, school security issues directly affect students’ academic performance.

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

What should schools do to overcome potential security problems?

Schools should install security devices such as metal detectors, cameras, CCTV and schedule parameter checks to minimize security issues.

Moreover, schools should also follow an Emergency Operation Plan (EOP), a documented guideline for emergencies. 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 School Safety and Security Issues article.

Why Should There Be More Security in Schools?

A safe and healthy school environment is critical to education. While schools strive to meet the educational needs of students and the whole community, they are open to every kind of security threat from inside and outside 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 many students, teachers, and supporting staff, must provide a safe environment for everyone on campus. Schools use various security devices and 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 emergencies, 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 firsthand 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 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. 

Schools must use modernized security devices on the campus and connected grounds to monitor and control students’ daily routines. They also help local law enforcement officials detect the person responsible for the damage. 

Security devices such as CCTV cameras in colleges and schools are used to identify bottleneck areas on the school premises. CCTV cameras also help track down unauthorized access, vandalism, and violence.

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

Improving School Security System

Guaranteeing a protected education environment helps expand school enrollments and supports the nature of administration. Different dangers 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 improve safety and security in the entire campus and educational institutions.

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 & 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 provide law enforcement agencies with evidence in 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 can capture higher levels of detail over greater distances. They are designed to work in dim light and suit 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 have a dome-like appearance designed for 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 and able 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 classroom safety, and improve emergency readiness.

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

Laws for School Safety

Safety and security in schools is an important issue. It is essential not only for students to feel safe in school but also for them to learn and grow. School security laws aim to ensure 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. For this reason, the laws for school safety require a more significant 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, strictly checking 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 by 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. The Establishment Law states that schools cannot officially establish religion or unduly favor one religion. It is primarily concerned with teachers and staff but not with school students.

CCTV Laws For Schools

CCTV cameras can 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, some guidelines and laws exist for using 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. Schools should set up boards and notices to notify parents and students 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 cameras following the school security standards. It limits students’ privacy and social norms that must be accepted. A school video surveillance policy includes reasonable procedures to preserve data related to any incident, including violating school security regulations. Generally, it involves privacy issues, fair disclosure, and appropriate use of cameras.

What Should a School Video Surveillance Policy Cover?

A school video surveillance policy is excellent for sustaining the security and safety of schools, administrators, and faculty. It regulates the ethical and legal use of video surveillance cameras. There are some essential constituents of a school video surveillance camera policy. The policy must:

Address Privacy Issues

Privacy is essential for everyone, whether you are a student, teacher, or school guard. A school video surveillance policy must not allow the coverage of places with a reasonable expectation of privacy. Moreover, it must not allow the recording of confidential information without the parties’ consent.

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 recorded individuals.

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 students’ privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of speech.

Storage & Release of Recorded Material

The storage and release of recorded material are equally important. The school video surveillance policy should devise accurate procedures to secure recorded material securely. Additionally, the policy should only release information to 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.

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 camera installed in their buildings. Yet, using security cameras in any school depends on 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 statistics, high schools reported the highest use of security cameras. As mentioned, 93.6% of high schools use security cameras.

What is the percentage of camera usage in public schools?

Security cameras in public schools have significantly increased over the years. For instance, in 1999-2000, only 19% of public schools reported using security cameras. 81% of public schools reported using security cameras in 2015-2016.

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

More schools in cities use security cameras than those in rural areas. Based on the data, 96% of city schools 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 severe 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 camera grants are 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 to 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 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 $53 million in grant funding for the fiscal year 2021.

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 to purchase and install security cameras on school grounds.

Michigan State Police Competitive School Safety Grant Program (CSSGP)

The Michigan State Police Competitive School Safety Grant Program is a local government grant that funds Michigan schools. 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, intercom, alert, 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 to organizations
  • Write an application

What are the tips for securing funding from these programs?

To secure funding from these programs, you should:

  • Look out for local or state grants
  • Have agreements before 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 & armed guards?

It is essential 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 have security staff and armed officers in their buildings?

According to research statistics, from 2013 to 2014, 43% of all public schools had one or more security staff present in their buildings. However, from 2015 to 2016, this number increased to 56.5%. On the other hand, facts about armed guards in schools from 2009 to 2010 show that 28.0% of all schools had armed security guards in their buildings. Fortunately, modern technology has significantly reduced this percentage as it has proven reliable. For instance, the percentage of armed officers decreased from 34.1% and 30.7% from 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 from 2009 to 2010. However, statistics show a significant decrease in this percentage over the years. For instance, from 2007 to 2008, 20.1% of primary schools had armed guards 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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

From 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 from 2005 to 2006 reported the presence of armed officers on their premises. These statistics indicate a much lower percentage compared to schools in cities.

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

School Security Questions & Answers

School security can be a complicated topic that many parents, faculty, and students have questions about. Review some of the most frequently asked school security questions we collected.

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. Still, 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 whole school security system for an elementary school would cost an estimated $20,000 to $30,000. However, a school security system can cost as much as $200,000 for a large school with connected grounds.

Do schools check cameras on weekends?

Schools do not watch cameras all the time, and that’s why school alarm systems are often installed in educational facilities.

They might check them to monitor the situation on the school premises or to look out for evidence in undesirable situations.

What do school cameras look like?

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

Do school security cameras record audio?

Though security cameras are installed inside and outside the schools and would typically do video surveillance 24/7, laws have stringent 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 lot on security systems to keep students out of danger. Records show that public schools spend nearly $795 million nationally on security yearly. The analysis of this spending amounts to $19.28 per person each year.

Key Takeaways

Schools use various methods to protect students, staff members, and visitors. In addition to using modern integrated technology for this purpose, schools have one or more armed guards on their premises and connected grounds to deter violence and counter unnecessary situations.

The presence of armed guards on 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.

School security systems ultimate guide


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