Security concerns increasingly dominate public education. But discussions of school safety are often based on misinformation and unfounded assumptions rather than documented evidence. Let’s change that!
I’ve spent several years now focused on learning as much as I can about the issue of school security. I have shared what I’ve learned with others at public forums, conferences, and school board meetings around the state in a presentation entitled “School Security in the Age of Fear.” I would value the opportunity to share it with your PTO, booster club, book club, neighborhood association, school board, or other organization that might benefit from a discussion of these issues. Just contact me. I’ve also written a series of blog posts on the issue, including:
- How to Judge School Safety Rumors
- Instant Information is Scary
- A Letter to Students About School Gun Violence
- A Collective Breath on School Safety
- Concern, Maybe Anxiety, But Not Panic
- A Community Guide to School Resource Officers (SROs)
You can access the complete list of blog posts I’ve written on school safety here.
I cover a number of different issues in my “School Security in an Age of Fear” talk, including what research shows about:
- Why is fear a problem?
- Are our fears justified?
- Do our current solutions to school security work?
- What are some better, more effective solutions?
I gave a similar presentation to school board members and school administrators from around the state at the annual PSBA conference last fall. Audience members rated the talk a 4.7 on a scale of 1-5 in an anonymous followup survey. Here’s some of the typical feedback:
- “Very interesting and thought provoking.”
- “Munson’s material should be provided to every school district.”
- “Best session of the conference.”
- “Learned many new ideas. Made me think differently in many areas.”
To Learn More
Here are some starting points for learning more about the issues I cover in the presentation.
Journalism & Mass Media
- Arnold, Alexis, “Bills and Bulletproof Backpacks: Safety Measures for a New School Year,” National Public Radio, August 16 (2018)
- Australian National University’s “How Anxiety Affects Learning”
- BBC News, “Power of Art” (2013)
- Bergland, Christopher, “How Does Anxiety Short Circuit the Decision-Making Process?,” Psychology Today, March 17 (2016)
- Blad, Evie, “One-Third of Parents Fear for Their Child’s Safety at School,” Education Week, July 17 (2018)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Children’s Mental Health” (2018)
- Christakis, Erika, “Active-Shooter Drills are Tragically Misguided,” The Atlantic, March 13 (2019)
- Cox, John Woodrow and Steven Rich, “Armored School Doors, Bulletproof Whiteboards and Secret Snipers,” The Washington Post, November 13 (2018)
- Dunklin, Reese and Justin Pritchard, “AP: Security Industry Sells Lawmakers on School ‘Hardening’,” NBCDFW TV News, October 2 (2018)
- Ehmke, Rachel. “Anxiety in the Classroom,” Child Mind Institute
- Elder-Connors, Liam, and Nina Keck, Jolted, Vermont Public Radio podcast series (2018)
- Frankel, Todd C. et. al., “Texas School Had a Shooting Plan, Armed Officers and Practice. And Still 10 People Died,” The Washington Post, May 19 (2018)
- Fussell, Sidney, “Police-Grade Surveillance Technology Comes to the Playground,” The Atlantic, October 4 (2018)
- Gamble, Amanda. “Anxiety and Education: Impact, Recognition & Management Strategies”
- Goldberg, Jeffrey, “The Things He Carried,” The Atlantic, November (2008)
- Hamblin, James, “What Are Active-Shooter Drills Doing to Kids?,” The Atlantic, Febuary 28 (2018)
- Singh, Lakshmi, “Inside the Business of School Security to Stop Active Shooters,” WHYY, November 18 (2018)
- This American Life, Before the Next One, October 12/Episode 659 (2018)
- University of Minnesota, The Impact of Fear and Anxiety.
Research Articles & Books
- Blalock, Garrick, Vrinda Kadiyali, and Daniel H. Simon, “Driving Fatalities After 9/11: The Hidden Cost of Terrorism,” Applied Economics 41 (2009)
- Eisert, Amy C., “School Resource Officer Evaluation: Phase One,” Center for Schools and Communities and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (2005)
- Fox, James Alan, and Emma E. Fridel, “The Menace of School Shootings in America,” pp.15-36 in The Wiley Handbook on Violence in Education: Forms, Factors, and Preventions (2018)
- Gastic, Billio, “Metal Detectors and Feeling Safe at School,” Education and Urban Society 43:486-498 (2010)
- Glassner, Barry, The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things (2010)
- Hankin, Abigail, Marci Hertz, and Thomas Simon, “Impacts of Metal Detector Use in Schools; Insights from 15 Years of Research,” Journal of School Health 81:100-106 (2011)
- Jonson, Cheryl Lero, “Preventing School Shootings: The Effectiveness of Safety Measures,” Victims & Offenders 12 (2017)
- Katsiyannis, Antonis, Denise K. Whitford, and Robin Parks Ennis, “Historical Examination of United States Intentional Mass School Shootings in the 20th and 21st Centuries: Implications for Students, Schools, and Society,” Journal of Child and Family Studies 27:2562-2573 (2018)
- Killingbeck, Donna, “The Role of Television News in the Construction of School Violence as a ‘Moral Panic,’” Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 8: 186-202 (2001).
- Klem, Adena M., and James P. Connell, “Relationships Matter: Linking Teacher Support to Student Engagement and Achievement,” Journal of School Health 74:262-273 (2004)
- Na, Chongmin, and Denise C. Gottfredson, “Police Officers in Schools: Effects on School Crime and the Processing of Offending Behaviors,” Justice Quarterly 30 (2013)
- O’Neill, Lauren, and Jean Marie McGloin, “Considering the Efficacy of Situational Crime Prevention in Schools,” Journal of Criminal Justice 35: 511-523 (2007)
- Schreck, Christopher J., and Mitchell J. Miller, “Sources of Fear of Crime at School: What is the Relative Contribution of Disorder, Individual Characteristics, and School Security?,” Journal of School Violence 2:57-79 (2003)
- Schwartz, Heather L. et. al., The Role of Technology in Improving K-12 School Safety, The Rand Corporation (2016)
- Thapa, Amrit, et. al., “A Review of School Climate Research,” Review of Educational Research 83 (2013)
- Twenge, Jean M., et. al.,“Birth Cohort Increases in Psychopathology Among Young Americans, 1938-2007: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of the MMPI,” Clinical Psychology Review 30: 145-154 (2010)
- U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2017,” NCES 2018-036, NCJ 251413 (2018)
The slides I use in the presentation, with citations and links to additional materials in the notes, are available here.