Student Safety Requires Whole-Community Support
For children to succeed academically, they must have a learning environment that meets their basic needs. Maslow before Bloom is the idea that children must feel cared for physically, mentally and emotionally before they can succeed with schoolwork. This level of whole-child safety is only possible through the dedication of the entire community — educators, administrators and parents or guardians.
The first step to this level of whole-community cooperation is open communication between school leaders and families about what plans are in place to support school safety and security. Once you know what steps your student’s school is taking to prepare for an emergency, it’s important to see how your student feels about these precautions.
Talking with your student about their perception of the safety and wellness structures in place at their school will help you better know where to begin your advocacy. Depending on your district and county’s level of preparedness, your advocacy for school safety may take different shapes. Here are some steps you can take today to create a culture of safety for your entire school community:
Speak About School Safety Solutions at a School Board meeting
If you are concerned that your School Board is not prioritizing the appropriate school safety solutions, you can research when their next meeting is and sign up to speak. Be prepared to share specific solutions you would like to see implemented. These proactive school safety solutions could include:
- A dedicated team that includes teachers, a school psychologist and law enforcement who are charged with assessing concerning behavior and establishing a safety plan to prevent escalation
- Unbiased professional risk assessment that equips schools to effectively prioritize which safety solutions will be most impactful
- Employing School Resource Officers (SROs) who are equipped with proper training to build relationships with students, deescalate potentially violent situations and facilitate rapid and effective emergency management
- Character development that supports holistic student development by teaching skills such as conflict resolution, empathy, emotional regulation and confidence
- Silent panic alert buttons that allow any staff member on campus to immediately connect to first responders in the event of school violence
- Multi-option response training for active shooter situations that is trauma-informed and age- and ability-appropriate and enables students and staff to proactively participate in their own safety
Contact Your Elected Officials About the Importance of Prioritizing Student Safety
Federal legislation is not the only way to impact school safety standards. State and local politicians hold significant power to shape policies that will reduce the risk of tragedy on school campuses. In order for these leaders to make the best decisions for their constituents, they need to hear from them.
You can locate the name and contact information of your federal, state and local officials here. Once you know who you’ll be talking to, you can decide how you want to contact them. There are many ways you can effectively communicate your concerns and ideas.
- Call their office. A record is made of all calls made to politicians’ offices. When they notice a particular subject is being raised frequently, they understand that it needs to be a priority.
- Share your story in an email. Email is a great way to express your thoughts in more detail than is possible in a phone call. School safety is a topic everybody can agree is important, but sharing your story and the reason you feel so passionately about enhancing safety standards, is powerful.
- Organize a letter-writing event. Student safety and wellness is a responsibility of the whole community. Gather yours together to write letters or postcards encouraging your local leaders to prioritize school safety legislation.
- Set an appointment to meet in person. Sometimes, nothing is more effective than a face-to-face meeting. Sitting down with your elected officials can help them better understand your concerns and help you understand their plans to keep your community safe.