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LOCKING THE DOORS AN EASY WAY TO INCREASE THE SECURITY OF SCHOOLS

MIKKO HELASVUO

In August, when schools started, the decision of a southwestern Finnish city to keep the front doors of schools and daycare centers locked during the school day or day care shift led to national news coverage.




As a result of the incidents of violence in both foreign and Finnish educational institutions, numerous recommendations have been made, where the top of the measures aimed at the built environment is almost always improving the locking security of exterior doors. Locking is a simple and easy procedure that has the most positive effects on safety. Keeping the exterior doors locked should therefore be a normal procedure without any extra drama.


According to my observations, in large cities, locking the front doors is regularly used, but in smaller settlements, there is often no awareness of the changes in the security environment. However, the marginalization and psychosocial problems found in the background of violence in educational institutions occur in towns of all sizes. The most serious acts of violence against educational institutions that have occurred in Finland have occurred in urban areas with less than 15,000 inhabitants.


Other simple measures related to access control of exterior doors, in addition to improving locking security, are for example doorbells and doorphones. The video connection connected to the door phone system is a better option than just the door phone in terms of security. In educational institutions for older students, such as upper secondary schools and vocational educational institutions, students can be given personal access control cards suitable for electric locks or similar, which limit the permitted spaces and access times.


Yard areas should be marked with clear markings indicating the boundaries and, if necessary, fenced. All possible passing traffic should be diverted past the yard area.


Camera surveillance has not been found to prevent the most serious acts of violence, but it can be used to increase the feeling of the risk of being caught. Finnish reports have emphasized the importance of a functioning notification system when something unpleasant happens. Instead, for example, metal detectors are not even suggested in the US recommendations.


Various technical measures will not help, however, if the day-to-day practices of the educational institution are not thought about from a safety perspective. It is necessary to agree on practices for receiving and escorting guests within the educational institution. The most important thing is to increase social control in a positive way. Safety is a common concern of all adults working in the educational institution and, depending on the age, also children and young people. It is always better if the staff of the educational institution includes a school host.


If, despite everything, an unknown passerby is spotted, an excellent way to increase safety is to ask: "What are you looking for, how can I help?" It should be shown to the visitor that he is noticed and that his movements are monitored. It is worth agreeing which doors will be used as access routes into the school building. One main door would be the best option in terms of security. Alternative operating models should also be developed for all kinds of temporary wedges open. In larger educational institutions, a good way would be to use a visitor ID familiar from companies.


In security considerations, fear of open learning environments is often brought up. However, working security practices do not conflict with these. A thoughtfully implemented open physical learning environment supports the pedagogical mission of the educational institution and thus the implementation of the curriculum in practice. Functional and comfortable spaces help to create a socially stimulating learning environment that helps prevent bullying, violence and other behavior that is problematic from a safety perspective. The location of the premises and the visual opening to the passageways should be thought about first of all from the perspective of creating a collective spirit of the educational institution and positive social control, without forgetting to prepare for security risks in extreme situations.

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