Are you tired of graffiti on your school's walls? Have some students
started bringing weapons to school? Is fighting on school property
giving you the blues? Are there days when you are afraid to go to
school? Maybe your school is fine and you want to prevent crime
before it becomes a problem? If you answered "yes" to
any of these questions or your school is struggling with other crime
problems, then a school crime watch might be an answer.
What Is a School Crime Watch?
Based on the Neighborhood Watch concept, a school crime watch encourages
students to watch out and help out each other to make the entire
school a safer and more enjoyable place. It's a student-led effort
that helps youth take a share of responsibility for their school
community. Students learn how to keep themselves from becoming victims
of crime and how to report suspicious activities. In some cases
there's an organized patrol that helps ensure the school's public
areas are watched appropriately. The attractiveness of a school
crime watch program is that a school of any size, in any type of
community — rural, suburban, inner-city — can adopt its principles
at minimum cost!
Starting a School Crime Watch
A group of dedicated teens willing to work together to bring the
entire student body into a crime watch way of life can start a school
crime watch program by
- researching what crime problems — vandalism, assault, theft
— are most common at the school and what prevention strategies
could prove effective;
- working with the school authorities including the principal
and the person in charge of security to get their support for
- establishing an advisory board made up of students and adults;
- talking to your local crime prevention officer about starting
the program, and
- setting up a central group of individuals in charge of the crime
watch — sometimes called the core group (This group must be made
up of students from all kinds of groups, so that no group will
- deciding how you will launch the program. An exciting way to
kickoff the program is through an all-school assembly or rally.
This will help build support and generate interest;
- advertising your first school crime watch meeting through fliers,
posters, morning public address announcements, even email;
- holding your first meeting to discuss the make up of the crime
watch, the issues that need to be addressed, and the need for
a school patrol. If you choose to have a school patrol your committee
will need to identify sites to monitor;
- telling the adult community that your school is starting a school
- planning your calendar of crime watch events.
What is a Student Patrol?
One powerful component of a school crime watch can be a student
patrol. This moves the program from an information and teaching
mode into action. Patrol activities include monitoring the halls
and parking lots between classes and during lunch. This action can
reduce the number of crime-related incidents in the patrolled areas.
Communicating Is Key to Success
Communication is critical to a school crime watch program. Students
report crime because it is a serious issue — not to get someone
they don't like into trouble. Not reporting can place a student
in a threatening situation. It is a school crime watch's responsibility
to keep all reports confidential. If students start finding out
about who reported on whom, people won't continue to participate
in the program. Students reporting must know that they will be anonymous.
Helping Out Builds Momentum for the Program
A school crime watch goes beyond just watching out for its fellow
classmates. Activities such as drug- and alcohol-free parties, date
rape/rape awareness days, newspaper columns in the school or local
paper, and crime and drug abuse prevention tips announced on the
P.A. system are ways to build interest in your program. Longer term
projects that promote student well-being include conflict resolution
projects, cross-age teaching and mentoring, vandalism prevention,
even bus safety.
Examining the Results
Do school crime watch programs work? Yes! Crime dropped 45 percent
at one high school in Florida within a year of initiating a school
crime watch! Active school crime watch programs in schools across
the country have been able to reduce violence, guns, drug use, and
many of the other things that come with crime. The schools with
active watches are happier, safer places.
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council