The new school year has barely begun and there have already been episodes of school violence. One child was killed in an altercation at a Houston-area school and a massive school shooting was narrowly averted at an Atlanta elementary school. Sadly, this is the world we live in.
Last year, I received a message from my son’s school about a lock-down due to a stabbing at a nearby community college. At that point, I knew that I had to get more involved in school safety. The keys to safer schools are information and involvement. Parents must know what’s happening at their children’s school and they must get involved to help shape and implement safety and security policies.
During my 5 years as a safety professional, I learned many things about personal and organizational safety and security and I’d like to share a few of my recommendations.
Here are 7 ways parents can help make schools safer:
7 Ways Parents Can Help Make Schools Safer 1 of 8
Talk to administration about safety and security procedures 2 of 8
At the start of each school year, it's important for parents to talk to the school's administrators about the safety and security procedures. You need to understand how frequently they have drills and how they handle real emergencies. What are the lockdown procedures? How will they notify parents if there is an actual emergency? These procedures should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis and parents should have some input on how they are implemented. Ask the school to give you a printed copy of the procedures to peruse and provide feedback. Make sure that the administrators hold regular safety and security training sessions with the staff and that the teachers are aware of the school's procedures.
Observe a safety drill 3 of 8
One of the best ways to understand the school's safety and security procedures is to observe a drill. Administrators usually schedule these drills well in advance. Visit the school on one of the scheduled drill days and pay attention to how it's handled. Is the drill orderly? Are the teachers and administrators giving clear instructions? Are the children paying attention and following directions? If you observe things that concern you, express these concerns to the administration.
Help your child to identify all exits 4 of 8
Parents should be familiar with all areas of their child's school. Walk through the hallways with your child to identify all exits and escape routes. Exits should be clearly marked and easily accessible. If exits are blocked or locked, contact the administration to correct these problems. Try to get a printed layout of the school if it is available.
Encourage your child to speak up 5 of 8
Attend School Board Meetings 6 of 8
Keep contact information up-to-date 7 of 8
Participate in the school’s PTA or PTO 8 of 8