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Kids or criminals

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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According to the National Institute of Justice, in 2012, students aged 12 to 18 experienced approximately 615,600 incidents of theft, and 749,200 violent victimizations while they were at school. Comparatively, in 2014, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that among students aged 12 to 18, there were about 850,100 nonfatal victimizations at school, which included 363,700 thefts, and 486,400 violent victimizations, including simple assaults and more serious attacks. Students experienced 33 nonfatal victimizations per 1,000 students while at school, and 24 per 1,000 students while away from school.

And nationally, since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been almost 200 school shootings on school campuses. The reaction by all local school districts to the increase in school shootings has been for the districts to go to voters to request bonds for security and safety upgrades.

"Today's events over the last few years have raised awareness about safety and security," said Birmingham Public Schools director of community relations Marcia Wilkinson.

In May 2015, voters living in the Birmingham district approved a $66 million bond proposal to allow for building and site, instructional space, technology and safety/security upgrades. The safety and security upgrades included a new secure vestibule with an access control system to restrict direct access into all of the schools, among other improvements.

In November 2015, voters residing in the Rochester Community Schools district approved a $185 million bond proposal that will fund critical infrastructure and technology enhancements and improve student safety and school security, said Lori Grein, community relations and foundation, Rochester Community Schools. "The bond projects are scheduled to span over a five-year period of time. Year one projects are currently under way. Over the summer, the main building entrances at eight of our schools were redesigned with two vestibule doors, along with an immediate passage to the office, a better visitor verification system, and lock-down capabilities."

"After the crisis in Connecticut, every district in the entire country evaluated what measures were in place," said Shira Good, director, communications and community relations, Bloomfield Hills Schools. "Most schools at this point have door buzzers and cameras (at their entrances). We had them prior to Sandy Hook."

"All our outdoor doors are locked – it's a change since Sandy Hook," noted Wilkinson.

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