On safe ground

School Safety and Security: Lessons in Danger
OECD Observer

On 21 October, 1966, a slag heap in south Wales slid down a mountain and engulfed the village school, killing 144 people, 116 of them children. The 1995 terrorist bombing outside a school near Lyon, France, wounded three children and 11 adults. Fourteen students died in the 1999 gun and bomb assault at Columbine High School in Colorado, and an earthquake in southern Italy in 2002 destroyed a schoolhouse, killing 26 children.

Schools are generally safe places, but terrible events like these, however unlikely, have made many parents, already uneasy about theft, bullying and violence, even more nervous. There are more reassuring stories; for instance, from 9/11, when 9,000 kids from several schools in the vicinity of the burning buildings were evacuated to safety. But how can your local school deal with such events?

Prepare for the worst, is the advice from School Safety and Security: Lessons in Danger. It could mean calling not only on law officers to help make schools safer, but also architects, psychologists, security experts and government authorities. Lessons in Danger examines several different approaches to create a secure learning environment, looking at risk management, crisis planning, building safer infrastructure, and of course, education.

For instance, beyond the usual installing of fences and practising fire drills, children today are being frisked at the school door for possession of knives, firearms or spray paint. Schools are trying out high-tech tools, such as access-control systems to prevent intruders from entering school property, closed-circuit television to monitor inside and outside buildings, and biometric sensors to identify individuals, in order to control access to sensitive areas. Going a step further, one school in the US recently announced that it would implement “smart” cameras that can recognise who does and doesn't belong in the building, and alert staff.

While technology can help, School Safety and Security: Lessons in Danger stresses the need to also simply improve human resources, training not only school teachers and administrators, but taking advantage of the potentially helpful roles of the non-teaching staff, like playground supervisors, janitors, cooks and school nurses. Needs, too, should be taken into account. For instance, ask the kids what they consider to be a safe school. In the UK, a survey of 15,000 pupils produced the Children's Manifesto, asking for such safeguards as swipe cards for the school gates, anti-bullying alarms, first-aid classes and “someone to talk to about our problems.”

ISBN 9264-017399.

©OECD Observer No 246/247, December 2004-January 2005

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q1 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% May 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% July 2019
Last update: 8 July 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To order your own paper editions,email Observer@OECD.org

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • MCM logo
  • The following communiqué and Chair’s statement were issued at the close of the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial level, this year presided by the Slovak Republic.
  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2019