5 Reasons to Prioritize School Safety
By Benjamin Whitmer
School safety is one of the most important issues in education today. Preventing violence on school grounds not only is important for students’ physical safety but for teacher and administrator well-being and retention as well. Below you will find five areas school decision-makers should focus on to create and maintain a safe school environment. Here are 5 Reasons to Prioritize School Safety:
1. Preventing bullying has the potential to stop violence before it begins
Bullying has been proven to perpetuate school violence. In the book Violence in America’s Schools: Understanding, Prevention, and Responses
, Ted Feinberg, former assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists, stated: “One of the common areas that bind all of the school shooters together is all of them were the victim of bullying. Their lives were made miserable.”
2. Proactively identifying where violence and bullying occurs minimizes the threat of escalation
A study titled Understanding and Preventing Violence Directed Against Teachers
(2013) by Espelage, et. al, was conducted with the goal of creating a safer environment by proactively having students identify areas in which they felt unsafe at school. The majority of unsafe areas identified were not consistently monitored by most teachers and administrators. The results of this study suggest that the amount of bullying on school grounds can be decreased if a similar mapping procedure is repeated. Administrators can then use the results to increase supervision in the identified areas which can in turn aid in the prevention of violent situations.
3. School violence extends beyond bullying and assaults
Custodial issues, arguments, and altercations between adults related to students are also likely to happen on school property. Training your personnel and ensuring their ability to alert authorities in a variety of situations will ultimately create a safer environment at your school.
4. Safer schools result in increased teacher retention
To retain the best talent, school officials should make safety a top priority. Studies report that more than half of teachers feel unsafe at school, and up to 80 percent report having been victimized during the previous year. Preparation and training are keys to ensuring that teachers feel safe on school grounds and comfortable during their workday.
5. K-12 school safety regulations could be on the way
State Rep. Joseph Miro of Delaware introduced the idea of duress devices as a potential deterrent against school violence. Duress devices could be used in schools in the same way they’re used in banks and retail stores: to alert the authorities when incidents occur. As part of an Enterprise Mobile Duress System (EMDS), mobile duress pendants can be worn attached to lanyards that hold identification tags or placed in a bag/purse/pocket, allowing individuals to summon help before violent incidents escalate to crisis levels.
This blog originally was posted in The Center for Digital Education
Benjamin Whitmer is the senior research analyst for K-12 for Inovonics, a company that creates high-performance wireless sensor networks for commercial and life safety applications.