5 Tips for Increased School Safety

Jul 12, 2019 by

5 Steps Schools Can Take to Increase Safety of Students

When you drop your child off at school in the morning, you do so under the assumption that they will return home safely in the afternoon. For the most part, this is true. But in thousands of situations each year at schools across America, students of all ages come home with mental, physical, and psychological wounds that make parents wonder, are we doing enough?

The Biggest Risk Factors

While it obviously depends on the student age, location, and type of school, students all across America face risks like these:

  • Bullying. Somewhere between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 students say they’ve been bullied at school by a peer or fellow student. While most bullying happens in middle school, it’s prevalent at all grade levels.
  • Unsafe conditions. With restrictive budgets, schools are often limited in what they can do to maintain safe conditions. As a result, students may experience personal injuries as the result of poorly marked crosswalks, unsafe surfaces, defective classroom equipment, or even school bus accidents.
  • Sexual harassment/assault. An estimated 81 percent of students in grades 8-11 report being subjected to sexual harassment at least once. Many become victims of sexual assault or abuse by the time they graduate.
  • Gun violence. Despite what the news tells you, school shootings are incredibly rare. However, the risk does exist and should be acknowledged on any list of potentially dangerous factors.

Some of these risks are more prevalent than others, but they all occur with some degree of frequency and regularity. As a parent, this should motivate you to step up and do more.

5 Safety Tips to Counteract These Risks

There are no perfect solutions to complex problems like these. However, there are some practical steps schools can take to lower risk factors and foster safer, healthier environments for students to learn and grow. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Ensure ID Badge Policy

Badges or IDs should be required for all administrators, staff, visitors, and even students. When schools create an environment in which visibility is a priority, there’s less of a chance for suspicious behavior to fly under the radar. If individuals are spotted without identification, they should be immediately reported.

  1. Set Clear Rules on Violence

It’s one thing to say bullying is “bad.” It’s something else entirely to have a set of rules in place regarding how bullying and other forms of violence are handled.

Schools need clear rules on violence and must follow through with consequences. Otherwise, it’s too easy for offenders to get away with actions that ruin trust and make students feel unwanted and victimized.

  1. Conduct Safety Sweeps

Members of the school’s maintenance staff should conduct weekly sweeps of the property to identify high risk factors that could lead to injury or illness. This may include broken handrails, the presence of mold or mildew in bathrooms, leaks causing slick surfaces, or poor signage in parking lots.

  1. Run Drills

“While fire drills can seem repetitive at times, practicing them seriously can be the difference between safety and danger in the event of a fire emergency,” Earth Networks explains. “Besides running fire drills in accordance with your state’s requirements, include fire safety awareness refreshers every month or so in the classroom. Go over the escape route(s), extinguisher locations and fire safety tips like staying low when there is smoke.”

The same goes for tornado drills, school shooting drills, and other emergency situations. Teachers and students must be aware of exactly what to do should something happen, and practice is the only way to train for the real thing.

  1. Train Teachers to Spot Signs

Finally, teachers need to be trained to identify the signs of abuse and bullying in students. Non-verbal signs are often the greatest indicators that something is happening behind closed doors. When teachers can spot these signs, help can be initiated faster and more efficiently.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s bullying, unsafe conditions, sexual harassment, gun violence, or something else entirely, our schools aren’t as safe as we’d like them to be. As parents, being aware of the problems that exist in your child’s school is the first step. The next step is to speak up and work with the local school board and PTA groups to develop stronger systems for preventing undue harm and protecting our students from physical, mental, and sexual harm.

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