No single person, strategy or program can make a school safe. Research supports the following approaches - which, when implemented collaboratively, result in increased safety awareness and comfort, decreases in violence, weapons and risk behaviors, and subsequently, consistent academic gains:
Does this mean automatic/instant safety and protection from violence … no, there is no such promise. But it does minimize related risks.
- Focus on community, district, building, student and staff climate / culture (top down, bottom up);
- Student engagement and protective factors;
- Health Education (prevention focus) taught annually K-12 with emphasis on resiliency, coping, decision making/consequences, risk behaviors, social emotional learning, and mindfulness;
- MTSS implementation; early intervention and universal screening;
- Physical and environmental security protections with focus on aging school buildings;
- Professional Development plans and pre-service education for administrators and staff that focuses on safety practices, emergency planning, and trauma/behavioral health;
- Interactive, fluid, and practiced school safety plans: emergency operations, communication and drill practice and policy;
- Required process for threat assessments (consistent teams, training and protocol);
- Annual needs assessments with multiple partner involvement;
- School/community supports (counselor, nurse, SRO/law enforcement, social worker);
- Specific parent and community involvement; and,
- Strong and enforced student policies (i.e., bullying, attendance).
Emotion cannot be allowed to drive an agenda to ensure schools remain a safe place for students and staff … FOCUS ON HOW, NOT THE WOW!
The best invisible security is built in student relationships.