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Survey: Northeast Schools Confident in Ability To Deal with Threats

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Schools in the Northeast are more confident in their ability to deal with security threats, according to a new survey by Wren, a video surveillance company. The vendor's Northeast School Security Survey, the fourth in a series, polled administrators and school resource officers in K-12 schools in nine Northeast states on issues from emergency preparedness to their ability to combat campus threats.

Whereas only 15 percent of respondents from the Midwest felt extremely confident in their ability to deal with security threats, 26 percent of respondents in the Northeast felt extremely confident in their ability to deal with a student abduction; 31 percent felt they were extremely prepared to deal with an armed intruder on campus; and 61 percent felt extremely prepared to deal with a student physically attacking a teacher.

When compared with the results of the company's prior regional surveys, the latest survey revealed 69 percent of respondent schools reported currently using video, with 79 percent of those schools using video to monitor entrances and exits to support access control. Another 59 percent of schools with video reported using it to prevent student misconduct by letting students know they are being monitored.

Eighty percent of respondents in the latest survey indicated that if they could select just one tool to help improve security on campus, they would invest in video surveillance over intrusion alarms, metal detectors, and identity badges.

The research also concluded that schools in the Northeast are dealing with more security threats than their counterparts in the Midwest and Texas. Nineteen percent of respondents in the Northeast reported experiencing gang activity in the last 12 months, compared with only 1 percent in the Midwest and 4 percent in Texas. Eight percent reported cult or extremist activities, which weren't reported in either the Midwest or Texas surveys. The Northeast respondents also reported higher rates of violence, theft, and student bullying.

The security concerns reported as most critical by respondents were unauthorized people entering the school (49 percent); compliance with fire and security regulations (40 percent); and student bullying (51 percent).

When asked how they would fund equipment purchases, 35 percent of respondents indicated that no funds are available. Of those planning to purchase additional equipment, 43 percent said they would turn to state or federal grants.

"The disparity between the Northeast survey and the Midwest and Texas surveys may be due to the fact that schools in the population-dense Northeast are dealing with a greater variety and type of security breaches on a regular basis and therefore they're better prepared," said Andrew Wren, president of Wren. "The survey also found that Northeast schools are using video more frequently and strategically, which is likely a contributing factor to their higher level of confidence to deal with security threats."

Since 2007, Wren has conducted regional surveys in the Midwest and Texas--among other areas--to learn how educators are securing their schools, the tools they are using and their motivations and challenges around school security. As part of the company's interest in researching all areas of the country, Wren conducted this survey in the Northeast due to the area's population density and the unique challenges of securing urban schools.

The survey took place in February 2009 and included responses from 109 school resource officers, principals, and superintendents in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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