The world at times seems like a very unsafe place. The recent shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado brought back sad memories of the shooting at Columbine H.S. Closer to home, in the Allentown School District, $15,918 was paid for overtime police necessary to quell violence at Allen and Dieruff high schools. Penn State is dominating the news with their sex abuse scandal. How can parents keep their children safe?
Overall, school is one of the safest places children go. Unfortunately, things happen. Bullies, drug use, violence, theft, even rape have left students and educators feeling at risk. There are some things parents can do to help.
Talk about school safety
Keep the lines of communication wide open between you and your children. Talk about school safety and what’s going on at school. Students usually know everything and everyone at their school. Let them know they can always come to you with their concerns.
Talk to your children about their day. Most kids won’t tell you right away if something is bothering them. Look for warning signs that there may be problems such as dropping grades, constant illness, loss of friends, torn clothing, and missing personal items.
Ask the right questions.
Some children need to be asked directly about school safety. The following questions are a good place for parent to start the conversation.
- Where do you feel most safe at school and where do you feel least safe?
- Who would you go to if you found yourself in a difficult or scary situation? What teacher or staff member do you feel comfortable talking to?
- Is there anyone or anything at school that makes you feel frightened? How do you deal with that?
Make sure children know that talking to parents or a trusted teacher about a bully is not “snitching.” Most kids who are bullies need help and identifying them not only keeps fellow students safe but may be the only way the bully gets assistance.
Teach your child how to resolve conflicts without violence. Offer to be a mediator is needed.
Work with your school district.
Parents are one of the schools greatest resources. Try to be a positive aid to your school district. Find out how you can get involved in making your school safe. First and foremost you are your child’s advocate, working with your school officials and school board is better than fighting them. Educate yourself on the set up of your school, policies and their emergency strategies. Be an informed parent. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and The Center for Safe Schools provide information for teachers and parents.