When considering security on a global level and in first world countries, schools usually take top priority. It is the protection of our children, which are our future after all. However, in South Africa, school security is not on par with the rest of the world.
Considering what I have seen in my life, there is not much that shocks me, but upon visiting some of our schools, I must admit that I am absolutely appalled with the overall standard of security.
I often interview individuals who are responsible for the security at the schools and their understanding of security astounds me even more. Not because they lack training, but because of how ignorant they are in that they do not realise how poor their security actually is.
To make matters worse, many wholeheartedly believe their security is the best and even boast about it proudly. Should I attempt to point out any flaws, they react aggressively. That is if I am even given the chance to voice my concerns because they clearly are not interested in listening.
A case study
In one particular case, I was informed that they have no problems, as the SAPS respond directly to the security guards on site. That surprised me because the rest of the country generally complains about SAPS’ response time.
Moreover, the radios of these specific guards were in very bad shape and outdated. I have never heard of the SAPS taking orders from a security guard directly.
While on a tour through the school’s premises with the teacher responsible for the school security, my jaw dropped the more she spoke and the more she showed me.
“Why yes, of course, we have regular security meetings,” I was told in a manner that made this woman appear quite full of herself.
“How often?” I asked. “Every week, fortnightly, or once a month?”
“Every semester,” she replied. That means that security is discussed and takes priority only four times a year!
“Can you show me what is discussed at these meetings?”
“No,” she replied. “There are no minutes for these meetings.”
My jaw dropped further. How can things be followed up if there are no minutes? There is no proper communication, no management and, in fact, no security.
Without a security risk assessment in hand, you do not have security. Whose responsibility is the safety and security of children?
The value of a child
During this particular interview, I started making some notes and calculations. I came to the following upsetting conclusion:
If you had to place a value on a child, what would it be? Then take into consideration how much an education costs these days. What would you then say the school spends per child regarding security?
Whatever you were thinking, I can guarantee you that you are way off. When calculating the security, the standard of it and the amount spent on it as evaluated by the size of the school, this specific school places the value of a child at approximately R1.00, most other schools go up to R53.00 per month.
Not only do the people who are responsible for security at the school not want to listen to me or any other security adviser, despite our experience, but they sincerely believe that they are at the top of their game.
As a teacher that is trained to guide our children, why will she not heed my advice or give me a chance to explain to her the potential and existing security risks at the school?
I have over 30 years’ experience in security and crime prevention and as an independent risk assessor, I personally had to deal with tons of missing person reports crossing my desk that involved children. This makes me question our security system and why our children and schools are not made a top priority as almost anywhere else in the world.
And as a parent, can you be 100% at ease knowing that while your child is receiving his/her education, that they are safe and will return home at the end of the day? Don’t you think that as a parent, it is time that you get involved and take control of the security at your child’s school?
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