The Safety Factor

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The Safety Factor
There are several reasons why private schools are safe places for children. More here.
One of the many reasons for sending your child to a private school is because you know that she will be safe. School violence is rarely found in private schools. I won't scare you with examples of school violence. You see and read about these incidents every day both at home and abroad. Instead let's explore some of the reasons and factors which make private schools safe places for your child.

Discipline Codes
Most private schools have discipline codes. These discipline codes are enforceable and indeed are enforced simply because you and your child have entered into a legal contract with the school. As a result, when a student violates the code, there will be consequences up to and including expulsion. In a public school your rights are spelled out under the Constitution. Due process must be followed before any serious consequences can occur. That can take weeks or even months. In a private school the decision is made swiftly with consequences in place within a matter of hours or days at most. That's why private schools are safe places which allow learning to take place. Most of the students in a private school are there to learn. Not to waste time and fool around. Or get into trouble of any kind.

Dress codes are another important part of a private school's approach to discipline. While some schools require a uniform, most have a dress code. So the outlandish getups you see in many public schools are simply not tolerated. Dress codes minimize distractions from learning. They level the social playing field in many ways as well.

Respect for Others
Tied in with the discipline code is the reality that no bullying, hazing or intimidation of any kind is tolerated. Make that error in judgement and you will face serious consequences.

It's cool to be smart in a private school. The stereotypical groupings of geeks, nerds, jocks and so on are exposed for what they are: meaningless labels much loved by the media. But in reality just that: meaningless labels. Private school children are taught to think critically, to explore and to be creative. Yes, they are quite normal kids who use iPads, cellphones and all the other trappings of modern youth. But they have been taught how to use them properly and wisely, not as weapons to destroy a classmate's self-esteem.

Academics, athletics and extracurricular activities provide a structured balance to the daily life of a private school. When your days are different and filled with interesting activities and pursuits, you won't be bored and tempted to get into trouble. That's what most private schools try to do, recognizing, of course, that children need down time and time to just be by themselves. The structure of each day is what drives the learning on so many levels. Most importantly it teaches valuable lessons in time management as young people prepare for college and their adult lives.

How can the school know what's going on? As part of their in loco parentis obligation, private schools make it a point to know what's going on. Administrative and support staff as well as teachers have been trained to know what to look for. In addition private schools bring in consultants to conduct workshops about bullying and many other issues children need to know about. As Sir Francis Bacon wrote, "Knowledge is power." Private schools teach academics but they also teach lessons for life. This contributes further to creating and maintaining a safe school community.

Teachers and staff are trained to be there for their students. To listen, offer advice and counsel and encouragement. The history of school violence reveals a sad tale of children who felt misunderstood or abused, ostracized by their peers and rejected by society. Violence was their ultimate solution. Their tragic pain killer. Private school staff create a warm, family-like atmosphere which allows children to express themselves. Children who can express themselves and articulate their feelings and opinions without fear of being mocked learn confidence as well as compromise.

Parental involvement
When parents drop their children off at school every day and never take time to volunteer or get involved with the school, they cannot know what is really going on at school. Private day schools on the other hand insist that parents get involved and volunteer. Whether it's taking food to a food bank or helping to chaperone a class trip, the parents in a private day school play vital support roles. That creates a safe school.

The way in which a private school manages the whole child, not just her education, is the key to preventing violence in schools. It is the main reason private schools are safe places for children.

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