After Columbine, schools throughout the country went into safety mode. The school I taught at was one of them. We formed a Safety Committee, with me as the leader. After all, I taught the most high-risk, volatile kids in the school, so I had a vested interest in safety.
What amazed me as I offered up more and more suggestions on how to keep our school more safe, was just how many teachers and even our administrator were hesitant to make the changes necessary to protect students. I am still sad to say, the school where I taught, so many years later, hasn’t implemented any of the suggestions our committee was formed to create. I am happy to say, that I do however know what schools should be doing to create a safer environment for everyone.
First, the school your child attends should have every door locked, with the exception of the front door to the school. If all doors are left unlocked, anyone could walk into that school undetected and wander around. This is a safety issue in many regards. First, a child predator could be roaming the halls, sight unseen, or a disgruntled student with a weapon could sneak into school. It only takes one unsupervised door for this to happen. The front door of the school should be one that is supervised or one that front office staff can see who comes and goes from it. This way, someone is always watching the one door that is unlocked.
Another important aspect of school safety is to make sure every visitor in that school checks into the office and gets a visitor’s pass. There should be signs posted everywhere for everyone to see that say something like this, “All Visitors Must Check In at the Office” with arrows showing the way. A visitor should check in, sign in and receive a visitor’s pass to wear around his neck. If a teacher notices someone who isn’t familiar to him, the teacher needs to ask to see the visitor’s pass. If the visitor doesn’t have one, the teacher should escort the visitor to get one. This way, everyone coming into the school is accounted for.
The last aspect I will touch on is that each school or every school district should have a safety plan. This plan needs to be presented and taught to all students and staff, and the information sent home to parents. The types of things that should be taught are things like how to react to a bully, what to do if someone threatens you, and what is a lock-down situation and how to respond to one. There are several other issues that should be in the plan as well; this is just a basic idea of what your child should have in place at his school.
Tomorrow, I will talk more about bullying and school. Stay tuned. There are things you and your child can do if bullying occurs, and there definitely are things the school should be doing. This is all a part of staying safe at school!