How Can Parents Help Keep
Kids Safe in School?
Seems like every other day you hear about some wacko who brought a gun to
school, or some teacher who got arrested for sexually abusing a student. There's
gang graffiti, and drug trafficking, metal detectors even in placid suburban
schools, and since 9/11 it seems there's always the threat of some kind of
terrorist attack. It's all pretty scary. What should I be doing to help ensure
the safety of my children and others?
with your own family, first. Don't be ashamed or afraid of snooping in your
child's stuff. Look in his or her bookbag from time to time, and check out
drawers, closets and under mattresses. What if you find drugs, weapons,
pornography or other scary stuff? That's why you're checking! Be glad, because
you might have saved a life by confiscating it. It's amazing how many times
parents prevent untold misery, death, injury and all the rest, simply by acting
like a responsible parent and being willing to check for the signs of criminal
behavior or intent. If you don't find anything, be glad - and hope that other
parents will have your courage and integrity.
that, here's a list of 10 suggestions for parents from Ken Trump,
President of National School Safety and Security Services.
See his website in Homework, below, for more information:
your child about safety in his or her school. Students often know where
gaps in security exist and what can be done to improve school safety.
Where do they feel most safe? Least safe? Why? What can be done to improve
Identify comfort levels and methods for reporting safety concerns.
Do students have at least one adult they would feel comfortable in reporting
safety concerns to at school? Are there other methods (hotlines, email tip
lines, etc.) for students to report concerns? Are parents comfortable in
addressing safety concerns with school administrators?
Examine access to your school. Are there a reduced number
of doors that can be accessed from the outside (while still allowing children
to exit from the inside in an emergency)? Do faculty and staff greet
visitors, challenge strangers and know who is in their school? Are there
sign-in procedures, visitor identification badges, etc.?
Find out if your school has policies and procedures on security and
emergency preparedness. Does your
board and administration have written policies and procedures related to
security, crisis preparedness planning, and overall school safety planning? If
so, are they communicated clearly and regularly to students, school employees
and parents? How? When?
Determine if your school has a "living" school safety team, safety plan and
ongoing process, as well as a school crisis team and school emergency/crisis
preparedness guidelines. Does your
school have a school safety committee to develop an overall plan for
prevention, intervention, and security issues? Are these plans balanced and not
just prevention-only or security-only? Is there a school crisis team to deal
with emergency planning? Who are members of the safety committee and
crisis team? How often do they meet? Is there a written school crisis plan? Are
there written emergency/crisis guidelines? Are these plans and guidelines
reviewed regularly - at least once a year?
with school and public safety officials as to whether school officials use
internal security specialists and outside public safety resources to develop
safety plans and crisis guidelines. Do school officials actively
involve internal school security specialists, School Resource Officers, and
other school safety specialists in developing safety plans and crisis
guidelines? Do school officials have meaningful, working relationships with
police, fire and other public safety agencies serving their schools? Are they involved
on school safety committees and teams and/or do they have direct input on
if school emergency/crisis guidelines are tested and exercised. Do school officials test and exercise written crisis
guidelines? What type of tests do they do? For example, if they have a
lockdown procedure, do they conduct periodic drills to practice them? If they
cannot have full-scale exercises of emergency plans (which are often difficult
to do), do they at least do tabletop exercises to test written plans?
whether school employees, including support personnel, have received training
on school security and crisis preparedness issues. Have school employees received training on security and
emergency strategies by local, state and/or national specialists? Have
employees also received training on their school/district specific crisis
guidelines? Are all employees, including support personnel such as
secretaries and custodians, included in such training? How often is such
training provided? Is the training provided by qualified and experienced
instructors with knowledge of K-12 specific safety issues?
out if school officials use outside resources and sources in their ongoing
school safety assessments.
Do school officials subscribe to current publications addressing security
issues? Do they attend conferences and programs on school safety? Have they
reviewed their security measures, crisis guidelines and safety plans with
recommendations by school safety experts?
evaluate whether you, as a parent, are doing your part in making schools safe. Do you follow parking, visitor, and other safety
procedures at your school? Do you support teachers and administrators with
safety initiatives, including by asking the above questions in a supportive,
non-blaming manner? Do you talk with your child about personal safety
considerations, drug and violence prevention issues, and related topics early
and regularly at home? Do you seek professional help for your child in a
timely manner, if needed?
www.schoolsecurity.org for more