In this era of mass shootings, school officials are grappling with pressing concerns about school safety for students and staff. Many districts are opting for new security measures like enclosing campuses with fences, using surveillance cameras, and eliminating after-hours public access to campus facilities. The hope is that the “hardening of schools” will prevent tragedies from occurring in the future.
But there is a significant downside to this emphasis on physical security. School campuses serve more than just an educational purpose. They are also hubs for community events, family recreation on weekends, and healthy physical activity. In effect, schools serve as community parks in many neighborhoods that otherwise lack recreation facilities. Some parents and community leaders fear that increased campus security will negatively affect community connectedness and health.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times presented the differing viewpoints on this issue through the lens of a particular school located in Long Beach, California. ChangeLab Solutions policy analyst Cesar De La Vega contributed his expertise on school wellness and shared use considerations to the article. You can read the full article on the LA Times website.