There is a simple phrase that is putting are kids in danger, a phrase that threatens school safety and leaves kids, teachers, and parents at risk – “It could never happen here.” Despite the terror, news coverage, and discussions brought to the forefront of public consciousness by events such as the shootings at Sandy Hook and Columbine, we often forget that the threats to our students still linger, even when everything feels safe.
Despite the threat of violence in our schools, assessment and training, both in our homes and on school grounds, can protect those things we treasure most – our children.
Whether you are a faculty member or a parent, assessing your school’s culture, environment, and potential threats can help you make a plan of action to both prevent and minimize the effects of violence in your school. Here is a quick list of items to think about.
1. What situations do students regularly face at your school? Take note of the culture, cliques, gang activity, bullying, and maturity level of the students, and also pay attention to which kids who seem to be outsiders and which seem to be on top of the social hierarchy. You should also determine the school’s resources to deal with the issues at hand.
2. What situations do your students face at home? In this case, watch for cases of domestic abuse, crime, addiction, and other stressors that could be impacting both your students and the community around you.
Now that you are aware of your surroundings, make sure that proper training is in place. This doesn’t mean that all of the kids and teachers need black belts and handguns, but it does mean that everyone should be aware of the basics. Teachers and students should know the proper protocols to follow to stay safe.
This includes instruction in basic drug safety, understanding the danger of dealing with strangers, addressing bullying, and, yes, even knowing what to do if there is an active shooter on campus. Having a game plan doesn’t make you invincible, but it does make you and those you love more likely to stay safe and react correctly if the need should arise.
From all of us here at FORLETTA, stay safe! We wish you all the best as you head back to school.