School safety is a vitally important issue. For effective teaching and learning to take place administrators, staff and students must feel safe within the school environment. This environment extends to school buses and school activities off the campus.
CNSNews.com cites a report published by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) , which states that 1,183,700 violent crimes were committed at American public schools during the 2009 – 2010 school year, but that only 303,900 of them were reported to the police. The report is entitled “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011.” It includes rape, sexual battery other than rape, physical attacks or fights with or without a weapon, threats of physical attacks, and robbery with or without a weapon among these violent crimes.
Overall, the report says that 1,876,900 crimes of various types were committed at U.S. public schools during 2009 – 2010, but that only 689,100 of them were reported to the police.
Although the severity of the situation varies from school to school, schools are clearly not always oases of peace and safety. Many parents and students are worried by this state of affairs. What can parents do to ensure that their children do not become victims or perpetrators of violence at school? How can they promote school safety?
- Parents should teach their children anger management techniques, conflict resolution, compassion and the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”
- Emphasize and model respect for others, kindness and tolerance.
- Show your children that you fully support all school policies that foster safety and security.
- Parents must talk regularly with their offspring about what is going on at school. Question them about their fears and concerns. Get them to disclose whatever they are uncomfortable or worried about. Parents must then act on their findings.
- Report unsettling or threatening events or situations to school authorities.
- Parents and students should report cases of sexual misconduct and drug or alcohol possession or use by deviant students. They should likewise report offending students for gambling, stealing, bullying or possession of offensive weapons.
- Report students who are behaving strangely or threatening to harm themselves, staff or other students.
- Get your children to report the presence of strangers on the school campus.
- Ensure that your children avoid name-calling and unwelcome teasing as they often lead to fights.
- Never ignore threats. Always report them to school administrators.
- Vet your children’s friends carefully.
- If you have firearms at home make sure that they are locked away from your children.
- Check your children’s rooms and school bags on a regular basis.
Parents should maintain cordial contact with teachers and school administrators. Joining the PTA is also a good idea. Having a positive relationship with teachers makes it easier for parents to discuss matters of school safety with them. Children must be shown that they have a role to play in the maintenance of school safety. Their role is to be vigilant and report any sign of trouble or deviant behaviour at school to teachers and parents. The teacher-parent partnership will enhance school safety.