September 8, 2022
Ross & Baruzzini Security Vice President - Managing Principal, Phil Santore, spoke with Security Magazine on how safety and security stakeholders can empower students and staff to help mitigate mental health issues, violence or unwanted behaviors by starting with facility design:
“To build or create an environment indicative of a negative place paints a picture that students see. Everything you put in front of them says something to them, even nonverbally,” Santore says. “When you stop thinking like a security professional and start thinking like an educator, parent or child, you can do some wonderful things.”
There is a movement to go from the reactive to passive and proactive when it comes to helping students address mental health issues and manage behavioral concerns, as well as mitigate school violence, bullying or unwanted behaviors. One of the ways schools can approach this issue is through a holistic facility design that implicitly encourages students and staff to speak out about potential problems before they happen, according to Santore.
You may have heard about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED. But even school stakeholders that don’t have training in CPTED can take a critical look at their environments from the eye of a student, a staff member or a bad actor.
“Those schools that are willing to think outside the box are beginning to design schools differently,” he explains. School counselors or mental health professionals have traditionally been housed in the main office, removed from the general population of the school, creating a physical and mental separation between them and the students.