As Summer sadly starts coming to a close (or maybe not too sad for some of us) many parents are facing concerns around school safety. Gone are the days we could happily send our children off school with only the worry they may lose their lunch box or learn a swear word. Today’s society has forced us to worry about school threats that end with the most unimaginable of outcomes: school shootings. I am here to encourage each and every parent to get active. Understand what is happening in your schools and if you don’t like it then advocate for a change.
School safety needs to become a priority
Parents need to pay attention to what’s going on in your school. When entering those doors at the beginning of the school year take a look around and ask yourself these questions:
- Are doors locked after school starts?
- Are all external doors kept closed all day, including those directly from classrooms?
- What is the protocol for gaining entrance to the school after the day begins?
- Do you need to show ID, check in at the office, prove who you are?
- Are there video cameras outside of the front door allowing office staff to view who is requesting entrance?
After reviewing these items dig further. Oh yes, there’s more:
- What are the district’s safety protocols?
- Are administrators, teachers, and students trained?
- What is the relationship with local law enforcement? Are there police liaisons?
Help ease your mind…
One form of response training many schools are turning to is ALICE Training Institute. ALICE provides civilian active shooter training around the premise of Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. This training provides school personnel and students with the tools to evaluate the situation and take appropriate action. If your school is not currently using this training method feel free to reach out to your school board and the superintendent. They may not even know it exists!
Ok2Say was created in Lansing by the state of Michigan and is in partnership with the Michigan State Police. As a highly functional tip “hotline” students and adults alike can submit a tip via phone, text, email or a downloaded app. Tips do not need to just encompass school violence. Someone can report on sexual assault, suicide, drug or alcohol abuse, fights, domestic violence, and cyberbullying are just a number of topics investigated by Ok2Say. Ok2Say has made its way through a majority of schools in the state and you can find out if someone has presented at your child’s school here. Even if your school has not had a presentation anyone in the country can use the program, so encourage your child to download the app, if they have a phone, and explain how and when to use it.
Hoping for the best!
Sending our children off to school in today’s social climate can be heart-wrenchingly difficult. We must not allow ourselves to stand aside and hope that our schools are doing the right thing. Hopefully, they are. We need to make a conscious effort to get involved and understand the protocols in place and ensure that they are put in place if there are none. Therefore, do not wait until it’s too late and we are forced to think, “if only”.