With the tragic Sandy Hook shooting, parents, leaders, and the media are talking about how to keep schools safe for students. But what do the experts in education—the educators—think?

School Improvement Network surveyed 10,661 educators from all 50 states to find out how safe our schools really are, and the best ways to keep them secure.

The survey was conducted in January 2013 and included nine yes-no questions and four items with a 1-6 Likert scale. It also included on free-response textbox, from which answers were grouped into six categories using a common Delphi technique.

The results showed insightful educator input on several key issues:

ARE SCHOOLS SAFE?

  • 91.6% of the educators say they feel safe in schools
  • 94.5% of educators believe their students feel safe in schools
  • However, 31.1% say their school is not safe from gun violence
    • 14.1% of educators who feel their schools are safe in response to the first two questions do not believe their school is safe from gun violence
    • 38.4% of all superintendents who responded say their schools are not safe from gun violence

 

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HOW HAVE SCHOOLS REACTED TO THE SANDY HOOK SHOOTING?

  • 68.2% of schools have taken steps to increase safety since the shooting
    • 33.1% say their schools have added new door locking systems, fewer doors left open, or other door-related security measures
    • 28.3% report new security procedures such as more security cameras or new lockdown procedures
    • 18.4% say their schools have done more safety drills in the instance of an armed intruder
    • 10.4% say they have added or increased police presence on campus in some capacity (part-time guard, police drivebys, etc.)
  • 69.9% of educators who believe their school is a safe place reside in schools that have taken steps to increase safety in the classroom
  • 36.9% of educators say their schools currently have some type of armed guards on campus during classroom hours
  • 66.1% of educators who work at schools with armed guards believe the guards make the school a safer place
  • Only 4.7% of educators say their schools have added full-time armed police since the Sandy Hook shooting, and only an additional 5.8% state their schools plan on getting one

 

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HOW DO EDUCATORS FEEL ABOUT GUNS IN SCHOOL?

  • 87.8% of educators say having an armed police officer would improve safety, while 12.2% say such a presence would make schools less safe
  • 72.4% of educators say they would be unlikely to bring a firearm to school if they were allowed to do so
  • 36.3% of educators surveyed report owning a firearm, 37.1% of whom say they would be likely or very likely to bring it to school if allowed

HOW WOULD HAVING AN ARMED GUARD ON CAMPUS AFFECT SCHOOL SAFETY?

72.4% of educators say they would be unlikely to bring a firearm to school if they were allowed to do so. 36.3% of educators surveyed report owning a firearm, 37.1% of whom say they would be likely or very likely to bring it to school if allowed.

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CONCLUSION

Most educators say they feel safe in school and believe their students feel the same. They do not, however, agree so unanimously that their schools are safe from gun violence. Although the reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting and other instances of school violence have been explosive publicly, the most common new safety measure being adopted is locking doors or keeping fewer open during the school day. The majority of educators feel an armed guard would increase school safety, though, do not desire to be an armed presence in schools themselves.