Are you always worried about students’ safety while they’re at school? Does the growing number of reports of violence at school concern you? Do you feel that your child is often unhappy at school or unwilling to go because of the fear of bullying, physical abuse, or more dangerous threats?
Contrary to what many might believe, school violence encompasses more than a psycho running around with a gun. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be physical. It can include the following.
- A physical fight between students involving slapping, pushing, punching, and kicking
- Bullying – both physical and mental
- Use of weapons
- Verbal abuse
- Violence against a student by a gang
- Virtual violence in the form of electronic stalking, online harassment, etc
Providing students with a safe space is essential to improve their learning experience and overall educational outcomes. Reducing incidents of violence ensures stable mental and physical health, less absenteeism, and better focus on academic objectives. Therefore, as an educator, you must provide students with a safe environment conducive to learning. Some steps you can take include:
- Hire experienced counselors
Schools should hire professionals with specialized education, such as a counseling degree focusing on crisis and trauma management for schools. School counselorscan help plan interventions for students whoexhibit potentially dangerous behavior. They can provide help and supportto studentsfacing psychological issues that might lead to them becoming aggressive or violent. Counselors can alsoinitiate peer mediation training, conflict resolution programs, and anti-bullying programs to curb incidents on and off-campus.Employing professional services will have a profound impact on the mental well-being of students.
- Deploy violence prevention policies
Having a crisis management strategy can prove beneficial. Schools can prevent violent behavior by keeping a strict check on all students and their activities. A practical approach is to carry out a random check on backpacks and students’ lockers to ensure they don’t haveweapons, sharp objects, or drugswith them.Teachers can also teach students about safe behavior and how to protect themselves from abuse through workshops. The plan should be communicated effectively among students to ensure everyone’s aware.
- Encourage students to report incidents
You should encourage students to reportany abuse to the management as soon as they experience it or witnessan incident. In many cases, victims tend to remain silentbecause of fear, blackmail, or being judged. This is more true for victims of sexual abuse. Hence, it is no surprise that the number of such incidents increased by 50% from 2016 to 2018. So, teachers should create an environment that makes students feel comfortable and encourage them to speak up. Teachers must also discourage victim-blaming and take swift action.
- Deploy security measures
You can bolster on-campus security by installing surveillance cameras in parking lots and common areas such as cafeterias, hallways, bathrooms, and playing fields. Deploy security guards and install security deviceslike metal detectors along entry and exit points.Develop a crisis plan with the help of local police and trained professionals. Practice regular evacuation drills with students for emergencies and stay well-equipped for them.
- Train students and teachers
Train students and teachers to effectively diffuse violent situations on campus.You can impart this training through classes aimed at helping identify violent behavior and self-defense classes.Teach students to keep a cool head at all times. Training can help people intervene and take control of a situation before things go down south. For example, agile students can swiftly take down an armed shooter or protect themselves if someone tries to assault them when no one’s around. Encourage students to walk in groups when going back home. It will help to reduce accidents after school hours.
- Conduct workshops for parents
It is essential to keep parents in the loop in the case of significant happenings. Also, conducting regular workshops with parents can help you discuss more important issues related to their child’s mental well-being. You can inform parents of warning signs to look for in their child’s behavior. Parents should be aware of how their behavior at home affects theirkid’s psychology. It can dramatically improve relationships between parents and children, resulting in less disturbingbehaviors, and consequently, reduce incidents of violence at school.
You can inform parents on the correct way to speak to your children about bullying, threats, and weapons. Also, get parentsinvolved in developing the school’s crisis and security plans.
- Challenge social and cultural ideas that lead to violence
Stereotypesrelated to gender discrimination, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and disability increase the risk of bullying and violence in schools. Therefore create an inclusive learning space and curriculum to nip such ideas from the bud. Discourage harmful norms and encourageideas that promote equality. Students should be taught tolerance at a very young age. Educators can accomplish this with the help of parents by regularly inviting them to sessions that promote acceptance of and equality among all kinds of cultures, races, ethnicities, religions, etc.
Students exposed to violence in childhood are more prone to depression, anxiety,and other mental illnesses later on in life. They are also more likely to fall intobad habits like smoking, substance abuse, or alcohol use. As a result, they become a liability on society instead of an asset to socio-economic prosperity. Thus, preventing children from experiencing violence at an early stage is essential. This article highlights a few steps educators and parents can take to provide students with a safe environment. Doing so will ensure these young minds bloom into thriving professionals.