With another multiple-fatality shooting at a public school last month that left 10 dead, the issues of security in schools is again being raised post-Columbine.

With another multiple-fatality shooting at a public school last month that left 10 dead, the issues of security in schools is again being raised post-Columbine. Oregon had a similar incident in 1998, when student Kip Kinkel killed two fellow students, following the murder of his parents. While the use of behavioral science and a method of reporting suspicious behavior has been instituted, architects are now being asked to consider their decisions in light of providing built-in security that does not suggest a prison.

Also, schools fall into ineffective and expensive traps to try and solve the problem, a Secret Service study reported. In an analysis of shootings back to 1974, it arrived at the following conclusions: SWAT teams are usually ineffective, since the attack is over by the time they arrive; profiling is rarely useful, because most of the subjects did not fit any uniform profile; early and extreme expulsions can inflame more violence; and metal detectors usually don’t matter in mass shootings, as the shooters typically make no effort to conceal their weapons.

In a recent Portland Oregonian story, local architects and school district members pointed to the following design considerations for better security:

  • Avoiding dead-end corridors and alcoves
  • Push-button, school-wide lockdown systems
  • Limit the number of entrances.
  • Don’t provide easy access to flat roofs.
  • Allow the school office central, windowed space to have greater views of the entry, parking lot and corridors.
  • Control coming-and-going by designing single, not multiple, buildings.
  • Allow classroom doors to lock from the inside, so teachers don’t have to go in the corridor to do so.
  • Allow entry through the front, and possibly one other door; other doors open freely out, but are locked to outside access.

    For other reports on security for other
    special populations, see: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/sciencetech/publications.htm