Welcome to my SafeSchools blog and website, www.safeschooldesign.com . If you are interested in helping develop safe, healthy, positive schools, you’re in the right place. Posts here will offer a mix of opinions, insights, tutorials, news and whatever intriguing new tools, tricks or inspirations I come across.
Will I cover hard core security issues? Yes. But far from exclusively. An obsession with classic security measures is not the answer. If it was, prisons would make great schools. Consider what prisoners say about their environments: “I hate being here,” “I feel alienated,” “I’m scared to go the bathroom,” or “I’m just putting in my time until I get out.”
Sound familiar? In too many cases, those quotes could come directly from children talking about their schools, referred to derogatorily by enlightened architects as “cells and bells” facilities.
My primary framework for looking at all this is something I call SHAPED: Safe, Healthy and Positive Environmental Design. SHAPED evolved from Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) and related fields.
The “Safe” component of SHAPED is synonymous with CPTED 101, addressing natural surveillance, natural access control and territoriality. These days it is frequently enhanced with electronic surveillance and access control technologies, some of which have proved to be great tools.
The “Health” component of SHAPED focuses on health at individual and environmental levels. Asthma is a far more common threat to students than bullets. Lead in the water can do as much brain damage as sniffing glue, it just takes longer. And of course any major environmental disaster can wipe out a school in just a few minutes. All of these issues need to be acknowledged and addressed, and are likely to develop as a third generation for the CPTED field.
The “Positive” component of SHAPED is an especially exciting field to explore. Antisocial kids, including shooters, are a pretty negative bunch, feeling alienated and disconnected. Restoring or establishing their connection to the school and the human race are the key to turning that around.
By the way, why do I call favor SHAPED over CPTED? Simple. The term CPTED is fear-based, focused on what we don’t want: crime. SHAPED is hope-based, focused on what we do want: safe, healthy, positive schools. Focusing on what we’re aiming for is far more likely to get us there.