|How Safe Is
Your Child's School?
by The Roller-Coaster Moms
As your child heads back to school, the recent violence that has
exploded in classrooms, cafeterias and gymnasiums across the nation
probably has you concerned. Now is the time to ask officials at your
child's school, "Will my child be safe?"
In our new book, Parenting 911, we give parents a checklist of
safety items that can serve as a starting point for your evaluation.
Here are some things to consider:
How tight is security? There should be a minimal number
of entrances and exits. Schools should require visitors to sign in, and
control access to parking lots, gyms and other buildings. Some schools
actually lock their buildings during lunch to prevent strangers from
Does the school record and track crime? Rather than
burying these statistics, compiling them helps school officials
understand what crimes are being committed when and by whom. Knowing
that, the school can devise strategies to combat crime.
Is there an emergency communications center? This
network should link classrooms and schoolyard supervisors with the front
office or security staff, as well as with local law enforcement
agencies. Detention classrooms should have emergency buzzers.
Have all posters been removed from windows? There
should be an unobstructed view into each classroom and hallway.
Do students and teachers have identification cards?
Those without cards should receive visitor badges.
Is a dress code enforced? Any gang-related clothing
should be prohibited.
Is there a peer mediation program? When students can
sit down and talk, they can solve their differences peacefully rather
than through violence.
Do parents care about safety? Make sure the topic is on
the agenda of your PTA. Many schools invite local law enforcement
officials in to talk about safety.
Do the children learn about safety? These law
enforcement officials should talk with the children, too. Besides safety
in school, these experts can tell children how to stay safe on the
Does your school have a way to spot and deal with troubled
students? In the wake of Columbine, many schools have become
super-sensitive to these warning signs.
Is there sufficient, qualified staff to counsel troubled
students? It's not enough to spot the students; the kids need to
receive the proper attention before they resort to violence.
Do teachers react when they spot cliques and bullies tormenting
other students? As we have learned from past incidents, many
victims retaliate. Teaching children to be inclusive rather than
exclusive will create a caring environment where cliques and bullies
have no place.
Safety in schools should be an ongoing concern, not just a knee-jerk
reaction to the latest headline. Make sure your child's school follows
through every day of the year.