Safe schools are everybody's concern these days. Years ago you worried about keeping the dormitory doors locked at night and making sure the trip to New York City was properly chaperoned. It was so simple.
Now parents, teachers, and students have to deal with cyber-security, stalkers, substance abuse, bullying, suicide, and a host of other really tough issues. How does a school community cope with safety? Let's take a look.
Improve your communications
In a very small school (100 students or less) you might be a are all syndromes that resultble to get away with the old-fashioned telephone tree where one person calls five others and so on. The problem with this method of alerting the community is that there are always a few people who don't get called. Install a web-based mass notification system and most of your worries will be over. Web-based mass notification systems use text messages, email, and websites to communicate news instantly to every member of your community. Whether the news is a weather-related closing or an accident involving one of your teams, it is received instantly. You can alert your community to whatever the bad news is before it hits the media. Google "web-based mass notification systems" to get an idea of the wide variety of systems available. Then have your IT consultant get two or three proposals for you and your board to review. A web-based mass notification system will help prevent the spread of misinformation when things happen. It's critical that you appear calm, informed, and informed when a crisis occurs. You've seen countless spokespeople on TV who mean well but project incompetence. Your school's reputation is your most valuable marketing tool. Don't squander it because you think you cannot afford a web-based mass notification system.
This video explains web-based mass notification systems.
Improve your training
Pretending issues don't exist is simply stupid and irresponsible. It also exposes your school to amazing amounts of legal liability. Every school operates in loco parentis. Don't take that responsibility lightly.
Hold seminars for every member of your community on big issues such as sexual harassment, hazing, and bullying. Conduct follow-up training and refresher sessions. Everybody from the security guard to the headmaster needs to understand the issues and what to look for.
Develop policies and codes of conduct to deal with all these issues. Then enforce these policies unequivocally and fairly.
Need to see what programs are available? Capterra has a list worth reviewing.
Improve your support staff and programs
The pressure on young people to succeed in a private school is enormous. Parents explicitly or implicitly expect results, excellent results, from their substantial investment in their child's education. Depression, substance abuse, and suicide are all syndromes that result from such pressures. Having established protocols, trained staff, and support programs to assist your students is critical.
Dekra offers whitepapers and other materials to help you improve your school's safety culture.
This video explains what safety training your school personnel need.
Teach every member of your community to be vigilant. They need to be alert to what is going on around them and report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities. Treat every report, no matter how insignificant, with respect and sensitivity. You never know where these reports may lead.
A safe school does not happen. A safe school is the result of a concerted effort on the part of your school community to have a safe school.
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