Whenever I ask this question during a seminar, I always receive lots of, “Cameras, locks, secured front doors.” These enhance your safety measures, but they are not your greatest asset. They never have been and they never will be. People are your greatest asset—if you treat them as such.
What do I mean?
Cameras are not your greatest asset because they are reactive and not proactive. All they can really do is record an event. They may influence some to not commit lesser crimes and other unwanted behaviors, but cameras do not stop school attacks and your greatest safety asset must be able to prevent a school attack.
Locks and secured doors are much better than cameras, because they can physically delay a school attack. Minutes matter and the longer we can keep those who want to hurt us separated from our children, the more lives that will be saved. Locks and secured doors are critical for a safer school, but they are not your greatest safety asset.
People can see, hear, smell, and sense impending danger and that makes them your greatest safety asset. People are the only safety device that can initiate direct action to prevent violence and here’s the best news. Every school already comes equipped with hundreds of them—for free! All you have to do is ask them to be a part of the safety team and train them how to respond to and report potential threats of violence. That’s easy. If you do this, you’ll have hundreds of people helping you to prevent violence and your school will become safer—instantly!
Another great and often forgotten benefit to equipping people to be your greatest safety asset is that by doing so you will improve the quality of their day by lessening their fear which will in turn enhance your school climate. Like academics, school safety is connected to everything you do. When a person feels that they have the ability to control their environment, that they are not at the mercy of others, especially those who just want to hurt them, they will feel better, more confident, and more cared about and this makes for a great day and a great school climate. Never underestimate the importance of team morale. It’s the only leadership responsibility that has to be tweaked daily if not hourly.
So, install cameras and always secure your doors, but put your faith and effort into your people. They will save the day—if you prepare and enable them to succeed. And…they’ll thank you for it.
People are the prize.