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Published October 9, 2018

National conference to address the impact of school security measures

According to a nationwide 2017 Gallup poll, investments in security measures by schools and school districts increase sharply every time a major violent event occurs. “Despite these high costs, research on the contribution of security practices to school and student safety, misbehavior, discipline and academic performance is sorely lacking, and sometimes even paints a negative picture,” said Jeremy Finn,  SUNY Distinguished Professor from the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology.

The issues surrounding the impact of security measures on school districts and their students is the topic of a national conference being held in Washington, D.C. this month. The conference, “School Security: Identifying and Addressing Sources of Inequity,” was co-organized by Finn and Timothy Servoss, associate professor from Canisius College, and it brought together 26 national school security experts to evaluate current security measures in the nation’s schools.

Among the topics to be addressed are the security disparity between schools with large minority populations and schools with predominantly white populations. “Research indicates that security measures follow the same pattern of racial inequities as suspensions or expulsions,” said Finn. “For example, African-American students are about six times as likely as white students to walk through a metal detector when entering school. The percentage of black students in a school is the single highest factor associated with high security in schools, over and above the amount of misbehavior or crime.”

A goal of the conference is to produce publicly available reports that address key school security questions, including:

  • What is known from research and experience about security measures in American schools?
  • What is known about the positive and negative impacts of school security measures on students, parents, and school and district staff?
  • What are the gaps in our knowledge about school security measures and produce an agenda for further research?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses in government data about school security measures?

These reports will be made available following the event on the conference website.

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