What is often reported in the media is the strong financial merits of school security fencing being installed around schools. What is less prominently reported is the social and emotional benefit of preventing damage, such as arson and graffiti, in schools. We recently compiled a report on "The effectiveness of school security fencing in South Australia" compiling the available data and media coverage that were able to obtain.
The social benefit of security fencing
Imagine being a young child arriving at your school only to see your class room has been destroyed in a fire, or graffiti tags on your classroom white-board or plants destroyed in your ‘vege’ plot. We all know schools are meant to have some magic about them. That the students are meant to feel like they are in a secure and safe envelope that is conducive to learning and personal development. As a result, when anti-social behavior takes place in a school it is like that space has been invaded and this results in shock for staff, parents and particularly students. It undermines that sense of security and confidence and that detracts from optimal learning and has a negative ripple effect to the wider community.
When we first attend a school to scope it for a new school security fencing, often there is a genuine sense of excitement and relief by the staff who articulate that with the fencing they are going to be able to restore this envelope of security, and therefore achieve better student outcomes. To illustrate this effect, in the 2012 Annual Report the Deputy Principal of Keller Road School said:
“The school continued its significant facility development with the building of the long awaited security fencing surrounding the school, an achievement that has taken many years to fulfill after the combined efforts of the whole community. This has contributed in a very significant way to the ongoing development of a safe community for our students and has certainly strengthened the safety perception in the eyes of potential families enrolling in the future”.
Similarly, in anticipation of receiving a new security fence the Principal of Port Lincoln Special School said in the 2014 Annual Report:
“Security fencing will hopefully eliminate the constant vandalism and number of break and enter incidence, which not only impact on the emotional wellbeing of staff and students but also significantly disrupts learning.”
The financial benefit of security fencing
In addition to the social benefit, school security fencing pays for itself and then some by way of reduced damage.
Based on data released by the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development (DECD) we estimate it has spent about $11 million in school security fencing between 2008 and 2015 but has saved over $30 million in reducing the cost of repairs over this period. This assumes the cost of vandalism would have remained at the 2008 levels if the fencing and other initiatives had not been implemented. Based on the data in the four years to 2008 it is arguable the annual cost would have increased so in effect increasing the return on in investment of the fencing.
We have manufactured and installed security fencing at 55 DECD’s sites since 2008.
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