Alarm Will Sound

Student Perceptions of Risk-Free Space at School


  • Elke Altenburger


school culture, school buildings, outdoor learning spaces, school safety, school practices, school attendance, crime prevention through environmental design


This ethnographic case study examines how a school building designed to promoteboth student engagement and safety supports school practices that prioritize minimizingrisk (Biesta, 2014). Student voices focus on the connotations of a tall fence and alarmed doors that deny the teenagers’ access to exterior circulation and social spaces. The author found educators embracing crime prevention through environmental design strategies to enforce aclosed campus policy. The resulting educational environment, which prioritizes students’ containment in order to secure sufficient attendance rates, leaves the teenagers feeling betrayed and untrusted.