Example Of Essay On SWOT Analysis For School Protection Against Shooters
Introduction and Background
A high school for behaviorally challenged students may possibly be assaulted by a lone shooter. Unfortunately, the scenario of one or two individuals attacking a student body is not as rare today as in years previously. In 2012, a lone shooter fatally shot twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School (infoplease.com). Two shooters at Columbine High School massacred twelve students and one teacher. In the last ten years, 468 adults and students have been killed in schools through shootings and other violent acts (Candisky, 2013). The Columbine attack changed the concept of school safety in the United States forever and setting new standards for providing for student protection. To date, the shootings at school have been by teenagers who were either students in the school or had attended it at some point in time and not by a terrorist faction.
Parents and school administrators are asking themselves what steps can be taken to protect the students and faculty from future assaults of this type. A survey conducted in 2002 by National School Safety and Security Services found 95 percent of the responding officers located in schools felt that schools are vulnerable to violent attacks and 79 percent thought their school was not adequately prepared for such an attack (School Security, 2015). Statements reported that gaps were significant in school security and measures for emergency preparedness with security personnel were not receiving adequate training and support for the prevention of school attacks.
OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration, 2015) has issued steps for educational and healthcare organizations to prepare for dangerous situations of this type (OSHA.gov). These include analysis of risk factors and the site security, implementation of violence prevention programs, administrative controls, and training for staff and students.
An analysis of a preparation plan is most effective utilizing a SOT analysis. A SWOT analysis stands for Strengths (characteristics giving an advantage), Weaknesses (characteristics that cause a disadvantage), Opportunities (elements to exploit), and Threats (elements to avoid).
The recognition of the advantages of a high school for behaviorally problem teenagers allows administrators to take steps for correction. There is already a focus on potentially dangerous situations from within the school and additional attention can be extended to external threats. A high school for mentally ill teenagers and those with behavioral problems will already have some security measures in place that the average high school would not have. A trained security team or designated group in the event of violence will already be in place.
Through the use of cameras and regular foot patrols by the security team, continuous inspection of the perimeter of the school is possible. A shooter has few options except to approach the facility on foot or to break through the perimeter with a vehicle.
Records of violent students, friends, or family members will already be recorded. A security system is probably already in place to limit unauthorized access to the facility. In addition, interior spaces are probably able to be secured once access is granted, allowing a shooter to be restrained or separated from the students. A plan for simultaneous lockdown of one section while allowing the evacuating others needs to be implemented.
A high school for behavioral and mentally challenged students will have a violence prevention program in place. Alterations to address an exterior threat in the form of a shooter would require a minimum effort. A security staff is already in place and it is possible to lock down the facility within a short period of time. In addition, staff members are trained to stay calm in the face of chaos and know how to deal with students in a potentially dangerous situation. Also, a nurse or other medical staff person is probably on hand with access to emergency supplies. In the event of a crisis, he or she would be able to assist victims more quickly than emergency personnel from outside the facility. Employees already receive formal instruction on how to deal with violence. The addition of training in the event of an external shooter will be minimal. Training and drills must include all staff members and students, not just teachers and security teams.
A disadvantage for the special high school is that teachers work with clients in isolation during therapy, class, or evaluations and would not be immediately accessible during an emergency. During mealtimes, classes, or visiting hours, staff members are occupied and not as observant to possible threats. A shooter coming into the facility would have an advantage with staff otherwise occupied.
There is the possibility of complacency arising on the part of staff members, particularly when faced with possible violent situations on a daily basis. This relaxed attitude can be bolstered by periodic drills for evacuation and creating barriers in addition to continuing educational seminars on developments in the industry.
Also, any areas of unlimited access need to be addressed. There is also the element that a shooter would be a student, ex-student, or family member familiar with the layout of the facility. Since barriers are primarily focused on keeping students from leaving without permission, attention needs to be paid to non-traditional methods of access such as openings in the roof or ventilation systems. Clear goals are needed to supplement current programs to address an external threat; programs currently in place would probably be insufficient. Employees must keep alert for the differences between threats by students and interpretation of possible threats of external sources. For instance, if a mentally ill student states a relative is going to come to the school with a gun, it should not be dismissed as a delusion and should be reported immediately to a supervisor. Employees must not confuse the problems of student violence with that of an external shooter. The procedure for each must be distinctly different.
Another disadvantage is that most security guards are not armed. In order to be effective against a shooter, each guard must be completely trained to the point where his or her response is instinctive (Chameleon Associates, 2012). They should be trained in scenarios of when to shoot, when to stop shooting or chasing the shooter, shooting through a crowd of by-standers, hand-to-hand combat, and more. The security guard does not call for backup, take cover, or evacuate wounded. His or her complete focus is on the perpetrator.
The administration and staff are already working with a population that may require isolation and/or containment. The elements of a facility that allows containment and barriers to admittance is an advantage. Recognition of potentially violent situations allows continuous evaluation by the security team as to the effectiveness of the current programs. A survey or questionnaire of employees on potentially violent situations or locations can be valuable. Evaluating the facility through the eyes of a shooter can bring insight to possible areas that can be addressed. Changes in work processes may also cause new problems not previously noted.
The evaluation of panic buttons, alarm systems, private channel radios, close-circuit televisions, curved mirrors at hallway intersections, and two doors or a window and door for each room for rapid exit would offer additional protection in the event of an assault. There should be only one door accessible from the outside and should be supervised at all times. Many traditional high schools have installed bullet-proof glass and a door locking system that is only released from inside the receptionist’s desk. Although metal detectors are an option, it has been found they are not a deterrent to a shooter. This is usually where the assault actively begins if there is a detector in place.
The ability of vendors and other accessory personnel require close monitoring for identification prior to being allowed access in any door. One of the school shooters in the United States entered through an unlocked back door. Most high schools in the country now have doors that automatically lock when closed, although exiting is possible at all times in compliance with fire codes. This system would keep a shooter out while allow for evacuation when possible.
Actions to address the possibility of a shooter would not seem too reactionary when coming from a facility with potentially violent clients. The administration needs to emphasize a zero tolerance for verbal and nonverbal threats and related actions. A liaison must be in place with law enforcement to develop the prevention and action program against shooters or terrorist attacks, offer advice on implementation, and suggest standards for periodic review. Several town have inspections and evaluations performed by the police department. Law enforcement should be provided blueprints of the physical layout of the facility for use if needed.
Since community mental health programs are probably already working with the high school for children with special needs, increased communication for potentially dangerous individuals should be established.
As previously stated, measures such as metal detectors have been found to be ineffective in the case of a shooter who has no intention of leaving the site of the attack. Rather, the attacks have been thwarted by reports by other students of conversations or suspicious behavior on the part of a student planning an assault. In the case of a student body with impaired teenagers, they may be more apt to report suspicious in order to garner attention in a disregard for social condemnation; in other words, the idea that the other students would label him or her a “snitch” is less of a deterrent to informing the teachers of a possible attack. In addition, a student as a facility of this type may be less capable of hiding his or her intentions of an assault.
The creation of a program and training of students and staff for potential external threats is vital. Security should be immediately informed of any possible problems or suspicions, including photographs of suspicious individuals. A high school of this type is more likely to have photographs of family members and friends than a traditional high school.
Allowing students and staff to practice drills after the announcement of a code phrase will allow better control of the students in the event of an incident; they will be less agitated and understand what is expected of them. Refresher courses and drills should be held at regular intervals. Custodial and maintenance staff members should be included since they would be an essential part of an evaluation process. These staff members not only need to secure possible openings from the outside through ventilation and other systems, they could be invaluable in assisting with evacuation of students.
In a situation where flight and hiding is not an option such as cases such as being the first contact, the age, possible aggressiveness, and size of the students may require self-defensive moves. These types of actions can include throwing anything close at hand at the attacker such as books, chairs, and classroom equipment while shouting. This may intimidate the shooter or confuse him for a moment. While this would be a last resort as it is very dangerous, it may enable the teacher and/or security to overpower the shooter.
Numbers of patients diagnosed with mental illnesses released from care facilities are increasing. School shootings in the United States have all been by students or ex-students of the facility, and the high school under discussion has an increased potential for delusional and violent individuals. Family members can also become distraught and violent. In the case of violence from an external source, it may be difficult for law enforcement officers to discern the person responsible from the clients inside the facility. Planning in the event of a shooter needs to include providing recognition of students from the perpetrator.
Also, security or some other staff member must be assigned the responsibility of allowing law enforcement personnel admittance to the facility in case of a lock down situation. It may be difficult for the police to enter the facility to render assistance unless several designated employees let them in. Employees must be aware of the new policy changes on a consistence basis. Employees hired before the changes may not be aware of them or forget them.
Administrators may meet with resistance from family members when attempting to implement measures to restrict access. They must be reassured the new rules are put into place for the safety of the students, and apologies should be offered for any inconvenience. There is also the possibility that friends or family members are also mentally or emotionally impaired; a screening process incorporated into the preparation plan could prove important to avoid a possible future violent situation.
The average shooting lasts about seven minutes; this doesn’t allow much time for students and teachers to react (Candisky, 2013). It is unrealistic to think the police will arrive in time to stop the attack; in the 10 to 15 minutes it would take them to come onto the scene, the attack would either be over or most of the damage already done. In a situation such as this, teachers are the first responders. In addition to locking classroom doors on a consistent basis, teachers can pile up desks, cabinets, chairs and other items to barricade the entrance as quickly as possible; the shooter will not stop to try to move a seemingly impassable entrance. There may be a problem when trying to control students at the same time escape actions are being made. Running from the classroom or escaping out windows has saved lives; information provided by survivors indicates that if the shooter is asked for mercy, he will not show it. Therefore, it is important to plan a barrier and exit strategy for each room.
Many schools have already implemented training programs, school policies, and student drills in the event of school violence. Refusal to do so to the best of their abilities can threaten administrators as being viewed as negligent by parents, the media, and public safety officials. Reported observations and an alert staff can go a long way toward avoiding further incidences like the tragedies in the past in schools and reports of suspicious behavior have resulted in foiling death plots. In addition, a terrorist act against a school in the United States is not improbable. The attack on a school in Beslan, Russia in 2004 was an act of terrorism.
The setting of a high school for disturbed teenagers has advantages and disadvantages for the possible situation. The construction of the building designed for keeping students from leaving without permission can also keep potentially violent individuals from entering. While plans and procedures should be in place and reviewed on a periodic basis, instillation of fear should be avoided at all costs. Particularly in a population such as a high school for disturbed teenagers, drills and other reviewed information should be enacted without an emphasis on danger that might create paranoia.
Chameleon Associates. (2012). School shootings - Chameleon Associates. Retrieved 24 March
2015, from http://chameleonassociates.com/?s=school+shootings
Candisky, C. (2013). "Teachers Learn How To Protect Against Killers In School". The
Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved from
Infoplease.com. (2012). Timeline of Worldwide School Shootings. Retrieved 24 March 2015,
Osha.gov. (2015). Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care & Social
Service Workers. Retrieved 24 March 2015, from
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