What is a safe school?
School safety is a complex topic encompassed by many different and changing issues, without a single solution. A safe school is a place where students have the ability to create, grow, and learn in a supportive, comfortable environment. Safe schools promote emotional and physical safety by protecting students from violence, bullying, harassment, exposure to weapons and threats, and the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds.
Creating a safe school yields positive outcomes linked to academic success, increased attendance and involvement, higher levels of prosocial behavior, and increased feelings of school unity. Safe schools prioritize safety at all times, taking initiatives to provide security, implement policies, and educate their staff and students on the essential knowledge they need to be prepared and protected at school. Schools aim to fulfill the ultimate goal of giving students the opportunity to learn and achieve in a safe nurturing environment.
Characteristics of a Safe School
- Academic support: The academic environment must give all students an equal opportunity to learn and achieve
- A student centered environment: Treating all students with equal respect and maintaining a positive environment
- Physical safety: Students should feel free from harm and violence
- Emotional environment: Students should feel emotionally supported and a sense of belonging
- Community links: Schools with close ties to families, support services, police, and the community can benefit from these resources. With the opportunity to serve children who are at risk for violence or another area of concern
- Discuss safety issues openly: Preparing plans and drills in the case of a crisis. Discussing and explaining safety policies and the importance of following them
- Proactive administration: Administration identifies problems and seeks to progress toward solutions
- Security measures: To ensure individuals who are not granted access to the school are unable to gain entry
- Safety technology: Technology to secure the campus, restrict internet access, alarms, fire detection technology, alert systems, surveillance cameras, etc
School Safety: A Joint Responsibility
The responsibility of school safety falls on everyone from the federal to the local level. Determining which level should expend the most effort on creating a safe environment is difficult. Many recommendations come from the Federal Commission on School Safety. However, it is stated at this level there is “not one plan that fits all schools across the country.” The Commission provides recommendations for schools based on their size, structure, and geographic locations.
With the United States consisting of 50 states, there are 50 state law systems for schools. Situations beyond the district level's authority are brought to the attention of the state. When a situation arises or a crisis occurs, the district is often the first to be notified, and expected to respond with a solution. Sustaining a safe environment for students and staff should be a key priority for all school districts.
Districts have the obligation and responsibility to enact strict safety policies, plans, and training programs tailored to the individual district to protect their students and staff. Districts have the ability to construct policies specific to their schools, this personalized approach permits administrators to establish and enforce effective policies.
School Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility
In a school district, the commitment to school safety should start at the administration level and be distributed throughout all staff, students, and parents. It is the duty of administration to provide staff with relevant school safety training. An effective safety system can be offset by the carelessness or lack of commitment of just one individual. All staff members must be 100 percent committed to carrying out all of the safety policies and measures at all times.
SafeSchools is an award-winning safety and compliance program in managing compliance and preventing serious safety incidents across schools. Their subscription-based programs save administrators time and money, and produce effective results. Their Course Library has a selection of training programs consisting of Staff Safety & Compliance Training and Student Safety & Prevention Training options.
SafeSchools training programs expose their readers to a variety of incidents that are challenging issues or issues that have previously occurred in other schools. The exposure to new, trending issues makes school district administrators aware of what measures they should take to prevent that issue from happening in the future, and how to be prepared to handle a related issue if it were to occur. Districts generally only have policies and procedures implemented for recurring incidents or past events.
School safety needs to be proactive to protect students from future harm. SafeSchools grants districts the capability to customize courses with their own content or resources, and build their own policies within the system.
Safe School Technology
In the case of an emergency, communication is a key component to ensuring the safety of all staff and students. Badge Messenger is a communication system that dispatches and monitors all alerts and notifications within your school. The communication alert system is able to function without a Wi-Fi network connection and doesn't require staff members to use smartphones. Badge Messenger is a must-have technology for safe schools.