Metal detectors have assumed great importance due to the rising events of school violence. This OpinionFront post enlightens you on the pros and cons, the cost, and other aspects of installing metal detectors in schools.
More than 300 people have been killed until now in school shootings, since the 1980s, in the United States. This shows the utmost requirement and urgency in setting up security measures like metal detectors and fingerprint scanners in all educational institutions, as well as improving the manpower of guards that patrol the premises.
In the recent past, there have been horrible incidents wherein students, school infiltrators, or even intruders have created havoc by killing other students or teachers with different weapons. Due to such incidents, there has been a lot of fear among children and their parents about the security and well-being of their lives. After these incidents, many people had raised questions about the security measures adopted in schools, and had demanded the use of metal detectors to end any kind of violence and killings.
Many people believe that metal detectors by themselves cannot protect students in schools, as violence can also happen on the school grounds, or while boarding school buses. It would be practically difficult or even impossible to check each student. Another question that needs to be answered is how many security personnel will be required to maintain the apparatus, and is it possible to maintain them throughout the day? We should also think about the kind of training that should be given to the security men to deal with emergencies. Detection of cleverly concealed weapons is another challenge for such personnel. There may also arise the need to have this system at other entrances to the school apart from the main gate. It would be necessary to know whether each and every school employee and teacher would be checked before coming in, and whether these metal detectors will be operating for an entire week.
Reducing the Risk
Metal detectors are used to reduce any possible risk of violence by right and prompt signals, such as beeps and alarms, when the detectors spot the person carrying destructive weapons like knives, guns, bombs, etc. According to a study, the number of students and outsiders bringing guns and knives to school has gone down considerably due to the installation of metal detectors in school premises. This system has helped the police to confiscate the weapons, which in some cases have been possessed without proper license, or have been stolen from another person.
Installing metal detectors is legal in any school, college, or an educational institution. If properly handled and maintained, a sense of safety and security can be developed among the school staff and the students. Also, any person who visits the institution will know that he/she will be searched, and hence, will not carry a weapon. Everyone will be aware that the ways to enter and leave the building will be blocked by security people along with the devices, and this will develop good discipline among the students as well as the faculty members. Along with security cameras, the detectors prove to be an excellent method to ensure safety especially in the student’s minds that they are quite safe inside the school premises.
Developing a Sense of Professionalism
The presence of security measures like metal detectors in educational institutions increases the strictness level that is maintained by the faculty. Though too much discipline is unwanted, a certain degree of strictness can benefit students in the long run. The reason for this being that nowadays, all business companies, large corporate sectors, and most of the workplaces have good security measures set up for the employees. It would be beneficial if school-going children are exposed to the strictness in security measures right from the start so that no one wrongfully indulges in using weapons.
Developing a Sense of Fear
Many people have said that the use of metal detectors in schools and other educational institutions may develop a sense of fear in students when they enter the school building. The younger kids, especially the ones below the 5th grade, would develop a bit of apprehension before entering school, as a psychological effect takes place upon seeing such devices. Many students will enter the building with the development of prison-like feeling, especially if the checking procedures are very stringent. The usual positive attitude by which children enter the school premises would disappear, and this might give rise to suspicion and somewhat guilt-ridden behavior among students.
Cost and Time
A thorough checkup before entering the school premises may result in the students reaching their classes late, and/or even missing their lectures. Some people complain that searching of personal belongings using such detectors is a direct invasion of privacy and should be avoided. Most of the devices are costly and need regular maintenance for efficient working. Installing metal detectors in schools can increase the budget to a great extent. The cost of a single device can be around USD 4,000, and the schools may have to buy several detectors for complete security. Sophisticated ones may be priced between USD 8,000 to USD 10,000, and the price may even touch USD 20,000 depending on the brand, quality, operating life, features, etc.
One of the biggest cons, the installation of such devices is not feasible for every school or college. Some institutions are very large, and may have multiple entrances and exits. Checking each and every person using even a hand-held detecting device is a very tedious job. In such cases, it is not practical to set up such machines, where they might impede the normal flow of kids, who have to get to their lectures on time. Also, the maintenance of so many costly machines is also very difficult, if a large number of people pass through it. There is another debate revolving around the fact that if most of the violent incidents occur on the grounds and outer areas of the institution, how will the set up of detectors inside the premises benefit any sense of security? In contrast, small schools are not very much in need of such devices, as rarely new kids or persons might enter the premises. This case might be seen in small towns and villages.
Even with the assistance of such devices, ultimately it is the particular school’s responsibility to take care of their students. The setting up of such detectors does not mean that violent incidents will not occur. They may take place in any kind of form, and it is not necessarily that the weapons might be detected by the machines as some might even be faulty. Many factors come into play while debating the use of security measures for students.
Though the devices are costly, it would be advisable to use them for student and staff safety. It is possible to prevent any sort of violence in schools, and provide a peaceful and safe environment for the students by collective efforts and cooperation of all the involved people.