Making Schools A Safe Haven: What More Can Be Done?

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It’s a sad reality that you can’t turn on the TV or read the latest news on your phone without coming across an atrocity somewhere in the world. As a parent, there’s nothing more important than protecting your kids, but in this day and age, it may seem impossible to shelter and shield them. When you send your child to school, you want to believe that they will be completely safe, but it’s hard not to dwell on the statistics. In the last four years alone, there have been more than 230 shootings in American schools. On average, one school is targeted every week. The aim for authorities should always be to reduce numbers and prevent such acts of cruelty and terror, but how can this be achieved?

 

Promoting security in schools

If you have children or you’ve ever dropped siblings or nieces or nephews off at the gates, you’ll probably be aware that most institutions have visible security measures in place. Students go through scanners to gain entry into buildings, and their personal details may be checked. The aim for any school is to create a safe haven where everyone is shielded from outside threats, and the staff knows exactly who everyone is and what they’re doing within the school parameters. If security is lax, there’s a higher chance of things going wrong. It’s not just stray individuals who can penetrate boundaries and climb walls. We’ve seen all too often that groups are willing to attack soft targets.

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Controlling access points

It’s evident that safety is an issue, but what measures could be introduced to reduce the number of incidents and protect children at school? The most important aspect of school safety is securing points of entry. With a school setup, you have people coming and going all the time, and this can make it difficult to control access points. The goal would be to have trained members of staff stationed at entry points, but is this affordable for every school? It’s well-documented that most schools are trying to operate on tight budgets. It’s also worth pointing out that people are using increasingly sophisticated methods to achieve what they set out to do. If somebody wants to attack children at a school, they may be willing to do almost anything to get through those gates. One inexpensive measure that may prove effective is using lanyards that are designed specifically for schools to keep track of who is entering and leaving the premises. If everybody has the same lanyard, it will be easier to distinguish those who shouldn’t be there from students and members of staff. Rooting out potential intruders is part of the objective, but it’s also essential to know what to do if you do encounter a situation, which could prove dangerous.

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Working to a plan

If you’re a member of staff and there’s a chance of unauthorised people gaining access to the school, you need to know what to do once you’ve spotted that this person or group of people shouldn’t be there. Every school should have a plan of action in place and the means to take urgent action if a suspicious scenario unfolds. Every educator should be aware of the protocol and be equipped to deal with a situation swiftly. It’s hugely beneficial for schools to be linked to local police services, and using wireless panic alarms and telephones may ensure a rapid response. If you are able to raise the alarm within seconds, this could save lives.

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Understanding the risks

Nobody wants to think about the risks involved with going to the school for the day. Whether you’re a student, a teacher or a parent dropping your kids off, you don’t ever want to think that this could be the day that your school hits the headlines. The truth is that there is a risk. It may be small, but it’s so important that everyone is aware of the potential dangers and they understand what to do if they find themselves in a situation where somebody breaks into the school or violent scenes erupt. Teachers and parents don’t want to scare children, and this is a subject that should be handled sensitively. It’s incredibly beneficial for lawmakers and enforcers to maintain contact with schools. Children may benefit from sessions that are designed to inform them about how they should act if they think somebody has entered the school unlawfully or they are worried about being injured by a person who has a gun, a knife or any other weapon. If students have been given a set of instructions, they will be able to act quickly.

It’s also important for parents to continue the learning process at home. You may not want to talk to your kids about safety scares, but it’s so valuable for them to learn to be aware and to encourage them to speak up and get help if they are worried that things aren’t quite right. Children often have questions about things they see on the news, or they hear about at school, so be willing to try and answer them as best you can.

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If you’re a parent, there’s nothing worse than turning on the TV to hear about children who have been killed in terror attacks or school shootings. Sadly, although these events aren’t commonplace, they do seem to be becoming more prevalent, and it’s difficult to watch reports and read headlines without thinking about the safety of your own family. We all want our schools to be safe havens, but there are threats and dangers out there. It may never be possible to put up the defenses and keep every intruder out, but stepping up security and ensuring educators and children understand what to do if a situation unfolds could help to save lives. Authorities should work closely with schools to identify ways of improving security and also make sure that support is available urgently if schools are targeted, and parents shouldn’t be afraid to talk to their children about the risks they may face at school.

 

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