The Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) is a large and active group of architects and allied professionals concerned with the quality and design of all types of educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.
Jenine,First of all, I am sorry to hear about your experiences with school violence. It is something no one should endure. For this reason I too have dedicated my professional career to trying to make a difference and to help prevent school violence. After many years in the profession I decided to switch gears and engage in research on this topic. In the wake of Sandy Hook, I asked if there was something that we as architects can do to help prevent this from occurring? Can't we design an entrance that stops someone who shouldn't be there? Of course we can. How we do that in a sensitive manner is the real design problem. CPTED is one way to approach the problem to design better schools. Although primarily a criminology theory, the key aspect of CPTED is to utilize the built environment to eliminate criminal threat, yet those who practice CPTED are rarely trained in design. As architects we are best poised to use our design capabilities with a proper understanding of some of the CPTED strategies, such as natural surveillance. Currently my research is aimed at examining how entrances may foster or hinder detection, delay, and denial of entry. I am at my early stages. Unfortunately few if any people are conducting research in this area. Society is focused on either gun control or mental health, but in between there is room to examine how architecture plays a role, whether it is good or bad while the other debates rage on. I have had discussions with architects who do K-12 school work and they have commented that many of their clients don't take security as seriously as they should because "it will never happen to us." How many of your clients possess this attitude? I suspect it may be too many and more likely in rural areas, as these architects have mentioned to me. While I was in practice security in any type of project was never discussed. At all. Our schools ignore the issue because it is too scary and thus we are left with a profession that is essentially ignorant to the basics of incorporating passive security strategies into our designs. We are in a unique position to inform the client about security issues if we understand some of these CPTED strategies. They are not particularly difficult and as you stated, can enhance the performance of students if done correctly. The design too. We like to say "Design Matters", and it does. How we design a school to create an environment that inspires as well as protects is an awesome thing to do.
I would like to see your master's research on schools in conflict zones if you don't mind. It sounds fascinating.
I, too, am researching issues of school facility security measures and would like to see both of your studies plus would like to share mine for peer review once I have written it.