Trying to Protect Students

How Schools Are Trying to Protect Students

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From bullying to high-profile school shootings to gang violence, school administrators must take proactive steps to protect their students from harm. Even natural disasters threaten students’ health and safety.

Of course, all students have a right to a safe learning environment. While no solution will ensure students’ safety at school, administrators should create an integrated approach to safety. This includes technology, safety protocols, emergency response plans, a positive school climate, and mental health support.

In an increasingly unstable and violent world, here are ways forward-thinking schools are protecting their students.

School Safety Technology

School security measures have increased considerably since school shootings in the 1990s, including the Columbine shooting. Today, virtually all schools have security technology installed to protect students. However, these security measures vary by location and school population.

Most high schools in North America are now equipped with automatically locking doors to control building access. They also have security cameras to monitor school property and the population.

Other schools, though, particularly those in more dangerous locations, have taken further steps to integrate security technology. While some schools use outdated metal detectors at the main entrance to scan for weapons, others have invested in the latest AI-powered weapons detection technology. 

The latest school security solutions replace outdated walkthrough metal detectors to keep students safe more accurately and discreetly. AI-powered weapons detection technology detects guns, knives, and other threats – without pat downs, bag searches, or stress.

Tracking Software

Some schools use incident tracking software to detect safety risks before harm occurs. In the majority of school shootings and other violent incidents, the threat was not spontaneous, sudden, or impulsive. 

Rather, the student-attacker displayed concerning behaviour before the attack. Incident tracking software tracks student behaviour and alerts school officials of trends that may indicate a risk to school safety.

Increased Safety Protocols

While many schools rely on security technology, most schools increase safety protocols as a simple, cost-effective way to keep students safe.

Some of these protocols include increasing hallway supervision. If budgets are an issue, existing staff members may supervise hallways, rotating to monitor students and spot suspicious behaviours and people. Hiring a security guard to monitor the halls and school grounds is the best option if budgets allow.

Another safety protocol schools adopt is locker checks. These may be conducted randomly as a deterrent or based on tips about illegal possession, such as drugs or weapons.

Emergency Response Plans

Every school should have thorough emergency response plans for any major threat to student safety. This includes an emergency response plan for natural disasters, mass shooters, and every threat in between.

These emergency response plans should be coupled with proper training for staff members and drills for teachers, administrators, and students alike. Everyone should feel confident they know what to do in an emergency on school property.

Positive School Climate

Creating a positive school climate is critical to preventing violence in an integrated approach to school safety. A supportive and trusting school environment focused on student well-being ensures all students are treated with care and compassion and feel like they are part of a community. 

Some innovative school programs go above and beyond violence prevention by partnering with local neighbourhood partners to provide valuable services to students. For example, they may partner to create safe passages to school, build alternatives to out-of-school suspensions, provide family counselling, and partner with after-school programs.

As part of a positive school climate, students must know that there is a zero-tolerance policy for violence, bullying, weapons, and illegal activity. Schools with zero-tolerance policies can build trust with students and make them feel safe on school property.

Students must also trust the adults on staff. They must know who to turn to and how to speak up if someone threatens harm to themselves or others. An anonymous tip line is an ideal way to make students feel comfortable sharing serious information about dangers and threats without getting into trouble.

Mental Health Support

Increased safety protocols, security technology, and emergency plans can help keep students safe during a violent or otherwise dangerous incident at school. However, mental health support can reduce the risk of a threat before one is present.

Student attackers often show signs of mental health issues ahead of violent episodes. They usually display signs of troubled behaviour for weeks and months, leading to an attack. In many cases, there are cries for help if anyone is willing to notice and pay attention. 

That’s why school mental health support is so critical as a security measure. It can create a space for positive behavioural interventions – before a tragedy occurs. Helping students resolve their conflicts, issues, and feelings can prevent violence.

Also Read: 15 Compelling Reasons to Invest in International Student Health Insurance



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