Take Action to Prevent Violence in Education
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The violence that occurs in U.S. neighborhoods and communities has found its way inside the schoolhouse doors. While we can take solace in knowing that schools are among the safest places for young people, school officials, administrators and teachers must do more to prevent violence. Education and training is the first step in preventing school violence, and a safe school plan is among the many solutions to help minimize this risk.
Establishing prevention and response plans can foster an environment where children can learn and teachers can educate without fear. As with all violence prevention initiatives, the best plans involve the entire school and the community at large.
Creating a Prevention and Response Team
Forming a school-based team to oversee the preparation and implementation of the prevention and response plan can be very helpful. This core team should ensure that every member of the larger school community accepts and adopts the violence prevention and response plan. Typically, the team includes the building administrator, general and special education teachers, parents and pupil support service representatives (school psychologist, social worker or counselor).
In addition, crisis response planning can be greatly enhanced with the presence of a central office administrator, security officer and youth officer or community police department member. The core team should coordinate with any school advisory boards that are already in place.
Responding to a Crisis
Crisis response is an important component of a violence prevention and response plan. Effective schools provide adequate preparation for their core violence prevention and response team, by not only planning what to do when violence strikes, but also ensuring that staff and students know how to behave when violent situations arise.
The first thing to remember is that weapons, bomb threats or explosions, security threats, fights, natural disasters, accidents and suicides call for immediate, planned action and long-term, post-crisis intervention. Planning for such contingencies reduces chaos and trauma during the incident. Contingency provisions include:
- Evacuation procedures to protect students and staff from harm. Schools must identify safe areas where students and staff should go during a crisis. Drills should be performed regularly so that all individuals in the school know how to proceed in a violent situation.
- An effective communication system must be established so that individuals have designated roles and responsibilities to reduce and eliminate confusion.
- A process for securing immediate external support from law enforcement and other relevant community resources.
Crises involving sudden violence in schools are traumatic because it's generally rare and unexpected. In the wake of such a crisis, members of the school community are asked – and ask themselves – what could have been done to prevent the incident? Yet, by being prepared, schools can take solace in knowing that they took actions to minimize the risk of violence and protect those within their walls.
A member of the ‘A’ Team is always available to help your educational institution minimize risk. Chat with us.
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