Perceptions Can Be Deceiving

Administrators must quantify the level of safety and security on their campuses

A number of acquaintances have been performing a quite a number of school safety audits for school districts and independent schools this spring and summer. During our discussions, five or six of them have mentioned how interesting it has been to them that some of the schools they have assessed are viewed unfairly by a lot of people in their communities to be unsafe in some way or another.  

These are very sharp school safety experts from around the country who are among the most skilled and experienced in this type of work, and they feel that a lot of these perceptions are often very much out of balance with the reality they are seeing when they visit them.  

In our fast paced information rich world today, I think it is all too common for misperceptions like this to harm campus organizations. This also demonstrates how important it is for campus organizations to provide evidence of their safety efforts using demonstrable, credible and accurate information such as student, staff and parent survey data to provide the public with a clearer picture of the level of safety they provide.

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at [email protected]. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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