The most important threat to the safety of schools is not guns and weapons. The greatest risk is the lack of strategies to tackle more pervasive underlying issues.
The reason why we need a security plan is to reduce risk, prevent losses, and also to prepare for emergencies. However, an excessive preoccupation with shootings at schools has caused some other threats and risks to be overlooked. While it is imperative, of course, that schools have a solid plan to deal with the threat of gun violence and weapons, it is just as important to prepare our schools to tackle the more common and often invisible dangers, such as social isolation, cyberbullying, as well as sexual exploitation.
Administrators and schools managers can take action with the following strategies to tackle these often-ignored issues threatening our schools:
- Establish school security policies and practices: Do not actually wait until an incident happens. Identify potential vulnerabilities or risks. Develop and disseminate corresponding policies and practices. Train your staff and students, based on those policies.
- Update your understanding of school safety and security: Schools are truly different nowadays. Students are very different. Anxiety among the student body is increasing. A higher level of anxiety eventually translates into a higher level of risk. Nowadays students face totally new threats, including those coming from social media platforms.
- Improve your efforts to prevent bullying and violence: Those in charge frequently find out about bullying only after it has escalated to a staggering degree and is out of control. Schools really need to implement methods and systems of identifying victim and perpetrators of abuse, bullying as well as violence. Initiatives dedicated to preventing behaviors or intervening in the early stages can help keep our learning environments much safer.
- Respect for security staff: Security should not be a secondary program to education. Safety is key for a productive learning environment. Prevention staff that are treated with respect and endorsed by managers and faculty will be the most efficient.
- Educate your staff; people really are the most important part of your safety plan: Security measures can be inconvenient, but the truth is that they are essential. Communicating this reality to staff can help strengthen the first line of defense against risks and threats. Invest time in raising awareness, facilitating routine instruction, and also conducting emergency drills. Security awareness can improve preparedness and will minimise risks.
- Review and update emergency procedures.
Ongoing evaluation of emergency plans will reveal weaknesses and flaws. Continuous shifts in community variables can cause risk factors to eventually change. Repeated testing of established health and safety procedures in schools will allow for modifications as needed.
In order to safeguard that kids get to and from school completely safely, here are some safety tips:
– Make sure the child knows his full name, address and phone number. Should your kid get lost or need to reach out to you in an event of an emergency, he will need these details in order to get help.
– Your kid should ask for permission before going outside. You need to always know where your kid is, and you need to keep him informed of your whereabouts. Establish a communication centre in your home where every member of your family can leave messages.
– Safety is in numbers. A kid who is accompanied by a friend or several friends is much less likely to be approached by an individual with questionable intentions. Learn more about your kid’s friends and get to know the parents of his friends.
– Safe distance. Ensure your kid understands that he doesn’t need to engage in conversations with other adults that approach him. Children should always keep at least 4 steps between themselves and someone they do not know, especially someone who make them feel uncomfortable.
– Where to find help if needed. Teach your kid to always remain on the designated route when walking to and from school premises and identify safe havens along the route where it is possible to seek refuge if he feels he needs help (offices, fast food outlets or phone booths where he can call the emergencies number).
– Create a secret family keyword or password for emergency situations. Choose a keyphrase or password that is known only to you and your kid. Your kid should always ask for this password or keyword before leaving with someone who claims to have been sent by you.
– Do not identify items with your kid’s name visible on them (clothes, lunch boxes, school bag, coat, etc.). A kid will respond more readily to any stranger when he is addressed by name.
– Emergency contact details. Ensure your kid’s school has emergency contact details. Ask your school what the procedures are for picking up kids so that only those individuals that you have authorised can pick up your kid.