During my school years, I can recall fire and storm drills. They were much the same as they are today. During a fire drill, we lined up outside and waited for the teacher to count us. In a storm drill, we went into the hallways and got down on our knees with our hands over our heads. Now, during my teaching years, a new drill has been created.
Schools now participate in safety or intruder drills. During this drill, students are instructed to bundle in an area of the classroom that cannot be seen from windows. The lights are turned off, the doors are locked, the room is silent, and the elusion that the room is empty is given. The idea is to deter an intruder from entering the room. Thankfully, my school has not had to use the method in a real state of emergency. However, I know some schools that have placed the safety drill into effect for precautionary reasons.
I never thought much about being safe when I was a student. My safety just seemed to come naturally. However, today is a different world. Our children deserve a safe and healthy learning environment. Educators and administrators are taking more and more precautions to make sure that schools are safe. After all, we are all in the same building. In some areas teachers fear more for their safety than the children do.
Although our country has had several acts of school or school bus violence, overall schools are still statistically safe. Fewer children are harmed at school than other locations. We must continue to take measures to keep school violence statistics low. Listed are some actions that all schools should consider.
· Adopt programs that address bullying and harassment. Make it a school’s goal to eliminate or at least reduce both.
· Make counseling, anger management, and peer mediation easily accessible.
· Make sure that students feel comfortable and confident in telling adults about rumors of violence or threats.
· Teach good character and values such as respect and responsibility.
· Instruct teachers to be cautious and report any strangers in the school that do not have a visitor’s pass.
· Design schools so that all visitors must enter through the main office.
· Keep doors locked.