In my school security and emergency planning workshops, I frequently ask school administrators, School Resource Officers (SROs), and others to name one positive thing they are doing in their schools which contributes to school safety. This item can fall under prevention, security, and/or preparedness.
Those who volunteer have about 10 seconds each to name their practice. Once someone takes the lead in the discussion, others typically follow very quickly.
The end result in just one minute or so is a list of about two dozen proactive, positive practices. They typically include items such as having School Resource Officers (SROs), cameras in their buildings, crisis plans and crisis teams, anti-bullying programs, counseling and psychological support services, and the list goes on.
So what’s the problem with that, you ask?
There is no problem with the practices they mention. The problem is they do not communicate to parents prior to a crisis that these items are in place.
Many administrators have simply never given thought to getting “out front” on school safety by sharing with their parents that they have these different programs and strategies in their schools.
I suggest school leaders go back to their districts and make the same list for their individual schools and for their school districts as a whole. This process could be completed in about 10 minutes and would give school leaders a concrete list of school safety practices to reference proactively in their parent communications. It could also serve as a quick reference if a crisis occurs and school leaders need to point to school safety initiatives they had in place prior to a critical incident.
School newsletters, district and building level web sites, principal’s or superintendent’s blog, parent association meetings, and other communications tools are often overlooked as places school administrators can get their word out about the positive things they have in place to protect students and staff. School leaders can reduce parents’ “fear of the unknown” by talking about the good things they are doing for school safety prior to a crisis situation.
Are your school leaders unintentionally hiding the several dozen good things they have in place to protect students and staff?
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