Keeping schools safe can be a daunting task, even with all of the steps one can take. However, it might be a surprise that stronger relationships are a vital part of improving school safety. Schools have started addressing mental health issues, restricted the presence of weapons on campus, and begun reassessing different ways to help make everyone feel safe, whether that includes stepping up fire drills or active-shooter simulations and hiring and training more school resource officers. Here is a look at what lessons you can learn as well.
Survivors in Recovery
The National Summit on School Safety was the first of its kind when it began in March 2019. Several hundred school safety stakeholders all converged in Houston to come together and discuss what measures they could take to secure their halls, buildings, and denizens further. At the summit, two mothers of Sandy Hook victims talked about how they’ve recovered in the years since the tragedy and how sending children back to school became a priority. Other survivors of Columbine and Sandy Hook took the stage on day 2 to discuss what has helped them recover as well.
The Importance of Empathy
Susan Payne is the founder of the organization Safe2Tell, a D.A.R.E officer, and a Student Resource Officer in her 28-year-long career spent in law enforcement. She also attended the summit and stressed the importance of empathy. Empathy with young people involves setting up conversations between students and teachers, where there shouldn’t be any fear to speak up about difficult topics stigmatized as being inappropriate for an educational setting, such as the impact of mental and emotional health on students and schools. Empathy, compassion, and signs of support are also crucial for students to exhibit among themselves, especially considering how the effects of bullying and ostracizing have rippled into school shootings and other crises that capture national headlines and attention for months and years afterward.
Developing Stronger Ties
Educators, counselors, and staff members can all reach out to the students and be supportive, no matter what they’re going through, and for what it’s worth, the adults shouldn’t be afraid to support each other as well. Frank DeAngelis, the former principal of Columbine, emphasized how attendance policies and tardiness protocols aren’t a problem if the students want to be in class instead of skipping out, and how the tools of prevention, intervention, and recovery resources are all as valuable in practice as they are in theory.
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