SCMT 498 Tackling the School Shooting Epidemic Paper

SCMT 498 Tackling the School Shooting Epidemic Paper

Tackling the School Shooting Epidemic – Establishing a National Strategy for School Security

  • Capstone Project Presentation
  • American Military University
  • SCMT 498

Problem Statement

School shootings have undoubtedly negatively affected numerous aspects of family, school and community life throughout the United States.

SCMT 498 Tackling the School Shooting Epidemic Paper

Our educational system is susceptible to hostile attack from intruders, with a propensity for causing chaos and inflicting mass casualties, mainly because of predictability in daily schedules, multiple access points, lax security measures, and friendly atmosphere.

One affiliated problem is that school and local government officials are not properly trained, funded, and equipped with the expertise necessary to implement an effective security strategy necessary to succeed in protecting our schools.

Purpose Statement

  • The aim of this mix method capstone project is to present a strategic plan that could be highly effective in improving security and curbing the growing school shooting epidemic with minimum negative impact on the academic
  • The main objective of this paper is to explore whether implementing a national strategy for school security could result in a safer education system.
  • A secondary objective of this capstone is to investigate how effective and relevant are the physical security measures currently being utilized.

School Shooting Statistics in the United States

  • Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on December 14, 2012, our nation has experienced more than 180 shootings on school campuses that resulted in an injury or death.
  • From 1980 to 2009, there was an average increase of 5% in the number of school shooting incidents. In fact, from 1996 to 2007 the average yearly homicide rate in schools nationwide numbered over 20.
  • This last decade alone accounted for an alarming 37% of all school shooting incidents that occurred since
  • If our history is any indication, over the next decade they could be an even higher number of school shooting and mass casualties in our nation schools if effective measures are not undertaken to curb this growing


  • A study conducted by the National Police Foundation (2018), revealed that, prior to the Parkland, Florida shooting in February 2018, nationwide, a mere 15 states had any form of safety requirements for educational facilities in place. The study found that even among those 15 states, security requirements in place were not consistent in addressing school facility security in a serious and meaningful
  • According to data from the National Police Foundation, there were 94 school gun violence incidents in 2018 — a record high since 1970.
  • School security advocates demanded more guidance from the government as findings of ongoing study on state school security requirements revealed minimal standards that vary

What is a National Strategy for School Security All About

  • Currently, schools nationwide have varying levels of security measures in place; as a result, many schools are not equipped to prevent or guard against the immediate threat of harm caused by an arm
  • The establishment of a national strategy for school security,

augmented by strategic oversight and guidance, could revolutionize our current school safety and security system while placing greater emphasis on the importance of effective actions to prevent school shootings nationwide.

  • The successful establishment of a national strategy for school

security will require collaboration with the federal government, strong state and local buy-in and local community participation and engagement.

Key Strategy Areas

  • Create national committee for school safety
  • Requires every district to have a School Safety Specialist
  • Requires all schools to have a security coordinator identified
  • Requires all schools to have a crisis plan
  • Requires every school to complete a security risk assessment with security/law enforcement
  • Recommends threat assessment teams for every school
  • Provides funding for school hardening
  • Provides funding for additional school safety officers
  • Recommend that community stakeholders be invited into the planning process, including: school administrators, teachers, counselors, psychologists, classified staff, students, parents, local law enforcement, fire, EMS, Red Cross, mental health, local government, business partners,

Strategy Priorities

  • Unfortunately, properly securing a campus is not inexpensive and may require reallocating internal budgets. Both public and private funding may be necessary
  • Expand federal assistance to schools struggling with the cost of meeting security needs. A way to assess current security measures against nationwide best practices
  • Promote adoption of successful policy approaches to improving school security at the state and local level
  • Strengthen partnerships among state and local government, education professionals and public safety officials to promote deployment of effective technologies that enhance school safety and security
  • Improve awareness related to school safety and security and increase training for staff, teachers, students and parents on school security risks and related best practices

Strategy Priorities: Improving School Safety

  • Building a cohesive and nurturing school climate
  • Providing necessary mental and emotional support services to students
  • Properly designing and implementing school district threat assessment teams
  • CPTED principles
  • Additional Safety Equipment/Technology
  • Improve Building Infrastructure/Design
  • Controlled Access
  • District/School Safety Teams/SROs

Key Strategy Areas

  • Training school administrators, teachers, and support staff (school resource officers and security officers, secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, etc.) on school violence prevention, school security, school threat assessment, and school emergency planning best practices
  • Evaluating and refining school security measures
  • Updating and exercising school emergency preparedness plans
  • Strengthening partnerships with public safety officials
  • Creating enhanced crisis communications plans and social media

Developing a Crisis Plan for School Security

  • A crisis management plan:
    • Addresses all hazards
    • Defines roles and responsibilities
    • Emphasizes collaboration and communication with community partners
    • Outlines action steps
    • Establishes training and practice protocols

Perimeter Protection Best Practices (SCMT 498 Tackling the School Shooting Epidemic Paper)

  • Perimeter protection and facility access control: From a design standpoint, security should be thought of in concentric layers, and the perimeter is that first layer of defense. Schools need to prevent unwanted intruders from entering the secure space that has been defined for students and staff. Whether that’s a fence perimeter or the exterior of the building, it’s the primary line of defense in protecting students and
  • Currently conversations regarding effective school risk management range from securing the school via locked doors and controlled entrances and exits, security cameras, electronic access controls, fences, bullet proof glass, guards,
  • Perimeter security protection is accomplished by design strategies that use a variety of methods to protect the
  • Real-world security risk assessments could assist school districts in identifying and evaluating their level of strength and weaknesses, current security procedures, and potential risk factors, providing them with the tactical and strategic information needed for an effective perimeter security design strategy

Emerging Issues

  • Usually others knew about the coming attack
  • Warning signs are usually present
  • Armed Guards in Schools or Armed Teachers and Staff
  • Addressing Mental health issues – enhancing and expanding services
  • Tighter gun control laws on a national and local level
  • Look for ways to finance school security improvements
  • Federal and State research, resources, solutions, and standards
  • Data on what issues really affect school facility security
  • Evidence-based promising practices and recommendations
  • Multi Agency Collaboration is imperative during any issue or incident
  • Identification of, and help for, students who may pose a threat

Lessons Learned from Prior Attacks

  • Communication is KEY to awareness and engagement
  • Information sharing is a vital component of safety/security
  • Requires dialogue between community partners to include plans for information sharing in emergency/crisis planning
  • Coordinated Services/Work Together as Partners
  • Multifaceted approach toward safety and support (personnel, facilities, )
  • Unexpected/ancillary issues (political ramifications, litigation, support)
  • See Something, Say Something!

Safe Schools & Safe Students

  • The scale, scope and impact of gun violence in schools, are a threat to our nation’s security; reducing and preventing gun violence will require a collaborative and multi-faceted A day-in, day-out commitment is required for the safety of our schools and to ensure that our nation never experience another horrific mass school shootings attack.
  • This capstone project does not proffer a perfect solution for ending mass school shootings, but it will assist in providing a more comprehensive understanding of the risk and challenges that schools nationwide face on a daily basis, emphasizing the importance of incorporating effective mitigation strategies and embracing new ideas in addressing current and future challenges
  • Establishing this national strategy could send a strong message that our nation takes the issue of gun violence in our schools seriously and is actively taking steps to put an end to
  • This research demonstrated that safety and security at our educational institutions could be significantly enhanced by establishing the aforementioned strategy and adopting the appropriate perimeter security protection measures

SCMT 498 Tackling the School Shooting Epidemic Paper References

  • Canady M. (2014). Protecting our children at School Planning & Management 53(1), 14-17.
  • Doss K T., Shepherd D. C. (2015). Active Shooter: Preparing for and Responding to a Growing Threat, (1st Ed). Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Jonson, C. L. (2017). Preventing school shootings: The effectiveness of safety measures. Victims & Offenders, 12, 956-973.
  • Klarevas, L. (2016). Rampage Nation: Securing America from Mass Shooting Amherst, NY: Prometheus
  • Madfis, E. (2016). “It’s better to overreact”: School officials’ fear and perceived risk of rampage attacks and the criminalization of American public Critical Criminology, 24, 39–55.
  • Muschert G. W. (2014). Responding to School Violence: Confronting the Columbine Effect. Boulder, CO, Lynne Rienner Publishers.
  • National Police (2018). Reviewing Statewide School Facility and Building Safety and Security Standards. Retrieved from
  • Raguski (2018, December 12). Read the full Stoneman Douglas commission report. South Florida Sun Sentinel, Retrieved from
  • Rajan, (2018). Arming Teachers: What do we know? Where do we go from here? American Journal of Public Health, 108 (7), 860-862.
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