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Yes, Child Protection Is a Security Issue

By Michael Johnson

Recent events in the international school community have highlighted the broad, and sometimes unexpected, threats facing students and institutions globally.
As a crisis planning and security consultation company, Clearpath EPM specializes in identifying and mitigating risks within the international school community. Clearpath has been enhancing its ongoing School Security Assessment and School Crisis Planning Training programs, to make certain we specifically address recently identified issues with regard to on- and off-campus child protection.
Leaders within the international school community are generally aware of the threats and hazards impacting the safety and security of their students, staff, information and facilities. They can be manifested in a variety of categories to include natural sources, technological threats, infrastructure, biological, and, finally, an assortment of human elements including civil unrest, bullying, and criminal activity such as sexual predators.
While each threat and hazard may have unique characteristics, correcting vulnerabilities and implementing thorough, consistent, and coordinated policies and procedures can help mitigate or prevent many school risks. Addressing vulnerabilities through policies and procedures is part of the Prevention and Mitigation phase of the five-step school crisis planning cycle, which also includes, Preparation, Response, Recovery and Communication.
Now the big question: Is your school practicing comprehensive security and crisis planning? Where does your school stand in the area of prevention and mitigation?
Take this quick assessment, to help identify your potential vulnerabilities:
-Do you conduct comprehensive suitability investigations, to include multi-jurisdictional police records checks, employment verifications, and reference interviews on all personnel who have or could potentially have unsupervised access to your students?
- Do you have and enforce access control policies at your facility?
- Do you utilize identification media for permanent staff, contractors, and visitors while they are on campus?
- Are non-vetted, contract workers escorted while on campus and in the presence of students?
- Does your school have a written and practiced social/emotional curriculum that promotes student voice?
- Do you have a method known to students, staff and parents to report, and procedures for promptly investigating, reports of suspicious or inappropriate activity/behavior?
- Do you utilize sufficient and balanced teams of vetted chaperones for after-hours and off-campus activities?
- Do you have a child protection team?
If you answered "no" to any of the above questions, now is the time to strengthen your crisis planning and security program.
Development, implementation, and enforcement of a broad set of policies (what you do and do not do) and procedures (how you do it) addressing the above questions will reduce the opportunity and means whereby individuals can affect the safety and security of your school.
In addition to policies and procedures, you can further strengthen your prevention and mitigation program by:
- Ensuring your campus has a defined and closed perimeter made up of walls, anti-climb fences, or natural barriers with lockable gates on all entrances and exits.
- Monitoring your ingress and egress points to allow for easier supervision and detection of unwanted and/or suspicious persons.
- Supplementing physical controls with the use of appropriate technology and equipment (cameras, lighting, turnstiles, locks, alarms, and identification badges).
- Restricting access to areas that should be off-limits to students (maintenance rooms, equipment storage areas, staff areas, storage closets, and unused sections of your campus or buildings).
Any of these relatively basic steps, practiced in a consistent and deliberate manner by all stakeholders, will not eliminate all of your risks; but they will mitigate and reduce them.
Clearpath EPM (Emergency Planning Management) is a leading provider of specialized international emergency planning services that includes expert on-site consulting and innovative crisis planning web-based tools and assistance.

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