Assessing and updating your school’s safety strategy is a critical exercise–one worth repeating as often as necessary to stay ahead of threats in an ever-changing, digitally-driven world. We need to have the right people responding to the right issues. From security to mental health and wellness, the collaborative contributions of your school’s safety team foster a systemic approach that promotes trust, coordination, and communication across the board.
The presence of armed guards in hallways and metal detectors greeting students at the door probably seemed impossible at one time. However, rising emotional crisis needs, surges in school violence, and social media’s influence have pushed our educational culture into an unimaginable era. An age in which the need to mitigate risk requires more than secluding or removing students who pose a threat.
At a bare minimum, schools looking to update their safety program must consider:
- Increasing awareness of potential threats and their resources to respond to them
- Deploying appropriate security technology to address and mitigate identified risks
- Retaining highly-trained first responders present to handle emergencies along with ongoing protection
- Having a threat management and assessment program
- Implementing a crisis response plan to minimize the impact of critical events and return the school to normal operations as quickly as possible
Beginning with building awareness, consider your students’ access to and expertise of mental health resources. Perpetrators of violent acts more often than not telegraph some indications they needed help. When such behavior goes unnoticed–or worse, ignored–unimaginable consequences may result. Having dedicated professionals in place to aid in generating awareness of in-person and online signs of student mental health struggles provides a necessary line of proactive defense. Amongst the best ways to be aware of these needs is to ensure that each student has access to a caring adult in the school community, and those adults include teachers, administrators, coaches, counselors, and even custodial staff!