We all know that in order to focus on learning, children must be provided with a safe environment at school. Teachers also need safe environments to devote their time and energy to the facilitation of learning. The Fordham Institute confirms that students who feel safe at school “are engaged and take intellectual risks,” and “the same is true for adults—both the teachers and families who make up a school community.”
There is nothing more important than keeping our children and our communities safe. The Fordham Institute’s guidance also drives home the following: a safe “climate does not occur magically—rather, it must be cultivated through deliberate school-wide strategies, expectations, and rules.” School Safety Solution is on a mission to help communities create these safe climates, one campus at a time. Read on to learn more about what you can do to help.
The Roles of Students, Parents, and Teachers
While we never know what could happen on the very worst day, we can all focus on what is within our control. Students, parents, and teachers can each play in a part in creating a safe campus.
- Students should be encouraged to report threats of violence made by their classmates, take lockdown drills seriously, and take care of their own mental health. Reporting threats, both those that seem credible and those that don’t, is one of the most critical steps students can take in keeping their campuses safe. According to an Alfred University study, of all students surveyed, only around half of them reported that if they “heard a student talking about shooting someone at school, [they would] would tell an adult.”
- Teachers have the power to make their campuses safer, too. The same Alfred University study found that the number one response students gave to the question of what teachers could do to make schools safer was the following: “teachers should care more about the students.” Other popular responses included “teachers should intervene, take a more active role in their students' lives, in the classroom and out;” and “teachers should treat all students equally.”
- Parents have a big role to play in school safety. The importance of teaching the value of gun safety at home cannot be understated. Beyond the values they impart to their children, parents can take tangible steps toward safer environments, too. Parents have the ability to lobby their children’s schools to put safety measures in place, including lockdown shades, door locks, and more.
Types of Violence Prevention Practices
As communities, we aren’t powerless to protect our schools. There are several ways we can work to prevent violence. Campuses are best served by taking a multi-pronged approach:
- Training: Training for students, teachers, and staff is crucial. When considering which training option to select, many institutions find ALICE training to be a great fit for their needs. ALICE training is one of the most popular school shooting training programs in the nation. The ALICE method teaches that there are three main strategies for action during an active shooter event:
- Evacuate: Evacuation is always the preferred method if there is an available (and safe) way to escape. Planning an escape route in advance is a great way for schools to get started when it comes to developing an active shooting drill.
- Shelter in Place: School administrators and resource officers should proactively designate a plan for sheltering and hiding inside the school building if evacuation is not possible or safe. Shelter plans should include methods for safely locking the classroom door, covering windows, and remaining in place for as long as necessary.
- Distract the Assailant: Creating 1) distance between the shooter and their target and 2) a distraction for the shooter are two key ways to counter an attack, if necessary. Both distance and distraction decrease the assailant’s ability to accurately aim and fire.
For more information on the ALICE training method and how to implement it at your institution, head over to School Safety Solutions complete guide to ALICE training for schools.
2. Physical Safety Measures: classrooms and campuses should be fortified against violence in a way that doesn’t distract from a happy, healthy learning environment. School Safety Solution is on the cutting edge of developing the most advanced methods of classroom security that also maintain a great environment for students and staff.
- We’ve developed the TEACHERLOCK™ and TEACHERLOCK II™ to transform any classroom door into one that locks from the inside. With TeacherLock, teachers do not have to exit the classroom at all during an emergency situation, keeping them (and their students) safe behind closed doors.
- Our Hideaway Helper is an anti-intruder lockdown shade crafted from high-quality blackout fabric with a weighted hem bar. Having been installed in over 2,500 schools and organizations globally, it can be customized to fit your schools’ needs, and it’s easy to use and simple to install. It also can be rolled up and kept secured with Velcro when not in use. In the event of an emergency, it rolls down with a quick release of the Velcro tab.
3. Mental Health Awareness: According to a study published by Counseling.Org, 78% of school shooters had a “history of suicide attempts or suicidal ideations prior to their attack,” and 61% demonstrated both a “history of suicidal attempts” and “a documented history of experiencing symptoms of extreme depression or desperation” prior to the attack;” however; only 34% had ever received a mental health evaluation. Schools (and in particular, school counselors) should be encouraged to take the signs of depression and suicidal thoughts seriously and proactively evaluate students who show signs of mental health issues. Sensitivity should also be increased surrounding those who appear to be struggling socially, as the Safe Schools Initiative Report shows that “87% of school shooting perpetrators left behind evidence that they were victims of severe bullying.”
A safe school starts with a healthy school, with mental health being perhaps the most important aspect. Mental Health First Aid is a “skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues.” Consider lobbying for the implementation of a program like Mental Health First Aid at your local school.
Be Involved: Work to Influence Lawmakers
The Federal School Safety Commission (“FSSC”) “recommends that states better support schools to implement whole-school efforts that build positive school climates, support students’ character development and social-emotional learning, and implement multi-tiered systems of supports or positive behavior interventions and supports.” Much of the push to create legislation protecting schools begins at the state and local levels, where parents and communities can have a strong impact in shaping regulations.
You can work to influence lawmakers by researching the laws in your community and supporting legislation that require schools to implement tangible and physical safety measures such as doors that lock from the inside, and require schools to provide mental health assessments and address bullying.
Creating Safe Campuses with the Help of School Safety Solution:
At School Safety Solution, our priority is making sure that school campuses across the country are as safe as they can be. Our solutions protect children and educators safely by providing reliable, high-quality, and life-saving equipment that protect children, teachers, and staff.
If you would like to review your school’s safety and security equipment, the tools available to your school’s staff, or any other security consideration, we would love to assist you. You can call our team of safety experts any time at 888.733.0406 or send us an email at email@example.com for more information.