Schools Turn To Panic Buttons To Increase Safety

School panic buttons are being circulated across the nation as parents and lawmakers call for more safety protocols.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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school panic buttons

Schools are ramping up security for the 2022-2023 year. As rates of violence have been on the rise, and after the deadly Uvalde shooting in Texas, parents and educators are especially focused on returning to learning with safety in mind. This has led many districts to install school panic buttons to offer quick-time alerts

In an emergency situation, timing can be everything. When first responders arrive on scene and act quickly lives are saved. This has led many states to mandate the use of school panic buttons in order to ensure that first responders can get to the scene as soon as possible. 

This is a quick, easy way to provide additional security without having to install costly door locking systems, metal detectors, barriers, security cameras, and other equipment. Unfortunately, these school panic buttons may not be as effective as parents wish to believe. Even the Robb Elementary School itself was armed with an alert system, but that did not stop an armed intruder from gunning down two teachers and 19 students. 

The president of the National School Safety and Security Services calls the scramble to install school panic buttons “security theater.” He noted how most families and educators are just seeking visible action. They want to believe that schools are safe. By installing these buttons, that belief is instilled but may not be entirely accurate. 

The Raptor Alert System had been triggered on the day of the deadly Uvalde shooting. Yet despite this, some school employees didn’t take the alarm seriously because they had been through so many alerts. Being so close to the United States/Mexico border, where hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants have been crossing into the country since the Biden Administration took office, the school experienced a high number of human trafficker alerts. This led some employees to shrug off the intruder alert. This displays how employee responsibility plays a major role in the success of school panic button security measures. 

While these school panic buttons give everyone time to lockdown and immediately alerts law enforcement, human error is still a major factor. The National School Safety and Security Services president acknowledges this and noted that teacher training and ensuring that doors are not left unlocked and propped open is most important. Again, in Uvalde, the shooter entered through an open side door, and then when police arrived they stood by for over an hour while students called and begged for help from their cell phones. 

school panic buttons

Schools that install panic buttons cannot merely rely on their alert systems. Staff and law enforcement must be prepared to work together to protect students. Just as security systems and metal detectors can detect threats quickly, the reaction of those involved is truly what determines the outcome of the situation. 

Demand for school panic buttons has been steadily increasing in recent years, but now it is skyrocketing. As students return to class, districts are determined to show parents that they care. Despite this, whether these measures prove effective depends on much more than proper installation, but also training and safety protocols.