Our children’s safety is always on our mind. This month, my youngest daughter will be turning 16. As many can imagine, I am already worried about the day she will drive off on her own. Many things will go through my mind, but I am certain my first thought will be, “Will she return safely?” I know this because I’ve already been through it before.
The school shooting incidents in recent weeks have been tragic, causing many to ask if their children are safe. These unfortunate events cause worry, stress, confusion and anger leading to an unsettled feeling for students, staff, and parents. Our district takes safety very seriously, which is why we voluntarily participated in a safety audit. Eleven former educators from the Kentucky Center for School Safety (KCSS) assessed our safety procedures.
Students, staff and parents were also interviewed to further evaluate campus safety.
Through participation in this audit, we learned the most effective way to prevent tragedies is to make sure students feel confident in talking with an adult about problems or concerns. Anytime a student hears or sees something disturbing, they must report to an adult- whether it be a parent or school staff member. In addition, school staff and parents must work together to recognize changes in a student’s attitude or behavior.
The team credited our staff for creating a positive learning environment. However, we need the help of all adults in a child’s life to create a positive atmosphere beyond the walls of the school.
I enjoy using social media, especially when communicating with my college-age daughter living hundreds of miles away. However, we must also know that social media can be used as a weapon for students to make unwelcome comments to other students. The district will continue to promote proper use of technology, but we need the help of parents and guardians by monitoring social media posts. It never hurts to take the phone at a spontaneous time to see how smart phones are being used.
Living in a small, close-knit community can give us all a feeling of comfort -- but we cannot be lax when it comes to school safety. In contrast, we also don’t want to make rash decisions when responding to school tragedies. Many will conclude the need for metal detectors, conducting book bag checks, or even arming school staff. Although these seem like quick fixes, we must look at all details to determine effectiveness.
A school crisis can take a number of forms, including weather emergencies, chemical spills, gas leaks or an intruder in or near the school. The nature of a school crises dictates what we do to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We practice many drills with students to be ready in the event of an emergency. The feedback we received from the safety team will be used to make changes based on the minor recommendations.
After such tragic events, it is common for people to wonder if their child is safe. Please know we work closely with law enforcement, KCSS and other school districts to provide an environment where our students will be safe.