As parents we need to teach our children how to be observant and aware of their surroundings. That way if they notice something out of the ordinary, they can report it to an adult or to YOU as their parent.
Riding the bus to and from school is an extension of the school day. YOU can teach your children to ride the bus safely.
YOU are VERY important in School Safety!!
YOU need to educate yourself on School Safety!!
YOU should be asking your Principal or School Administrator to see The Safety Plan for YOUR kids school !!
YOU need to take responsibility in teaching YOUR children to be safe.
YOU CAN DO IT !!!
What else do YOU think YOU can do to promote School Safety?
There are many warning signs around us. Signs that tell us to slow down while we are approaching a curve, or a speed bump. There are warning signs on a bottle letting us know that the contents are hazardous that warn us of the effects of the product.
What are the warning signs of a person who wants to cause harm at a school?
In an article by Peter Langman, PhD that was printed in the Forensic Digest Winter-Spring 2012, he discusses the research he has found on the Warning Signs of a School Shooter:
If there is a direct threat, Take is seriously. School officials need to contact the police and let them take necessary actions.
If a student admires or is obsessed with prior school shootings, you need to be concerned.
School assignments can foreshadow future events. It is hard to predict this indirect threat, but any assignment that is suspect should be addressed and the proper authorities should be notified if there is concern.
Obsession or collection of weapons ie guns or knives or violent material (books on making bombs) that they have at home.
Online texts or posts of their obsession or intent to cause violence.
Simply put we would not need a School Safety Plan if there were not violence in our society. This is one word that I wish did not need to be defended against.
Unfortunately for us we need to be realistic and deal with the violence that occurs in communities. It is essential to be knowledgeable about potential harm that can occur in our schools. Addressing issues of violence is of the up most concern. Children cannot learn if they do not feel safe.
When I was a kid there were 3 television channels. The most violent thing I remember seeing on TV was the Road Runner dropping an anvil on Wild E Coyote. Today there are hundreds of channels for people to watch, and there is no limit to the amount of violence one can become exposed to visually. I believe that the constant exposure to scenes of horrific violence whether in be on TV, movies or video games, desensitizes the human mind and spirit. When this is done human traits of empathy, sympathy and kindness are replaced with anger, aggressiveness and violent behaviors.
How does this have to do with school safety? Children and adults are becoming desensitized to the violence that they have either viewed or played in video games. When kids come to school they act out their aggressive or violent behavior. Children are shaped by the environment in which they live.
When your child is watching something violent, or if you are watching violent movies, think about the impact it will have on their future. You might want to change the channel and find more uplifting entertainment.
In order for procedures to be put in place in a real life setting training needs to occur for those who will lead the actions. Staff members need to be trained on what is expected of them during a lock down. Students need training and information on what they need to do to follow the direction of school staff. Security issues change and it is imperative that training be consistent and constant. It is recommended that an agenda item regarding Safety be on every administrators meeting with staff. Keeping up to date will ensure that our children are in the safest place possible. Training and professional development will enable staff to learn and hear from safety professionals to be up to date on current developments in the school safety field.
Boston was a great example of training:
"All of the routine disaster rehearsals, coordinated training, and special awareness of the types of injuries they would be treating meant that clinical staff were poised to act. These well-practised plans undoubtedly served to minimise injuries and loss of life." http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2013/04/boston-emergency-docs-rock
A stay in place is when an action is happening, those in the periphery or area affected are instructed to STOP, stay where they are until the action is over and the authorities have deemed it safe to proceed. For example a "Stay in Place" might be called if a medical emergency is happening in one area of the school, and in order for that emergency to be cleared all surrounding classrooms need to keep the children inside the room and hallways clear. Medical personnel can quickly get to the emergency without running into kids during class change overs. The classroom can carry on as usual and instruction can still take place during a "Stay in Place". This is unlike a regular lock down where everyone goes to the safe spot in the room or area. After the emergency is over, school officials make the announcement that the situation is over, and regular movement can occur in the school once again.
This just does not happen in our schools. This past week in Boston a "Stay in Place" was ordered to Boston and surrounding towns while there was a manhunt for the suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombings. Residents were instructed to stay in their homes while law enforcement went door to door clearing neighborhoods searching for the suspect. I bet this is the first time many people had heard the term "Stay in Place". Even after an area was cleared, residents were even instructed to stay in side for their safety. Many times staying inside and not evacuating is safer, it depends on the situation. Again listening to law enforcement is critical.
I can not emphasize how important it is to follow instructions. They are for our safety.
Today is April 20th. Fourteen years ago today 2 students at Columbine took the lives of twelve students and one teacher in the largest school massacre in the United States. School safety changed that day in districts across the country.
I do not want to focus on the negative event that happened that day because that would give credit to the two young men that caused so much harm. Instead I want to use this opportunity to highlight the positive contribution that one of the survivors of the school shooting has done to make schools safer.
Craig Scott is a survivor of this horrific event. He was 16 years old when it happened. Ten years later in 2009 he visited Plymouth Public Schools. He presented a program called "Rachel's Challenge". His sister, Rachel, was the first one killed that April morning at Columbine High School. I was fortunate enough to meet this young man. He truly is an inspiration to me.
Below is from the Rachel's Challenge web site:
I know that with kindness and respect towards one another we can make a difference in the lives of others. To read more about Rachel's Challenge, visit the web site: http://www.rachelschallenge.org
A quick response is critical in school safety. If an an emergency is taking place, the sooner law enforcement or emergency personnel can get to the school, the better the outcome will be for safety of the children. Time may seem like it is going by slowly, but seconds matter. It can mean the difference between life and death. Timing is very important, that is why schools practice lock down drills. They also record the times involved for each step of the drill. That way procedures can be reviewed and adjustments can be made if necessary.
A few years ago I attended a full day workshop titled " Educating the Traumatized Child". One of the presenters spoke about the need for communications between the police department and schools. He gave a great example of a incident where a man was arrested for physically hurting a woman by hitting her with a gun. The man was hauled off in cuffs, the woman was taken to the hospital. The 7 year old kid accompanied his mom to the hospital. They returned home around 3am, the son was put on the bus at 8am. This happened on a Thursday. Friday morning the kid was talking at school about a gun. Tuesday the mom was called into the principals office and the police were notified that they needed to check the home for a gun because the kid said he had a gun.
What was wrong with this scenario?
There are many things. First and foremost the child witnessed a traumatic event & then went to school the next day. How could he have been learning while I am sure he was thinking about what had happened the night before to his family? There was no communication between the police department and the school department. It took the school from Friday until Tuesday to address the issue. Too much time. What if the kid really did have a gun on Friday? Three days is a lot of time & something terrible could have happened, but luckily did not.
The point of the example was to talk about what needs to happen between a police department and the school department. Communication is key to the partnership. Now in Plymouth MA, when there is a police action and a child is present, the Sargent makes a phone call to the school department. We have school resource officers in our district, and communication is made to them of any situations where children may have been present. This way administration can check in with the child to make sure they are ok, or if they need any help or attention. It is also helpful to know why a child might possibly be acting out if they had had a bag night the night before.
Secondly, a partnership needs to be in place in order to have successful lock down drills. Open communication and working together for the safety of our kids is top priority. When we do lock down drills in Plymouth MA, our police department works with surrounding towns law enforcement, County Sheriffs department and State Troopers to make sure there is the back up if needed, and that information is recorded. That way we know who is available in case of an emergency. That is part of the drill.
Lastly the partnership is critical because we want our students to have a friendly relationship with the police and not have a negative perception of law enforcement. It is a common occurrence to have police cars outside of our schools, and that is not a bad thing. Prevention and education are part of the partnership.
Does your school district have a good relationship with your Police Department? Do you really even know? Ask your principal.
In discussing school safety it is important to discuss as many different options or scenarios as possible. While we may not come up with every situation, we need to plan accordingly and think of how to minimize as much risk as we can. There are many options on how we can proceed with lock down drills and communications, it all depends on the situation at hand. Flexibility of a well trained team will help anticipate any emergency, and provide the options for success that are needed to keep our kids safe at school.
Information gathering and dissemination of an event out to the public is critical in school safety. If an event happens, there needs to be a plan for communication and sharing of information via the News. The public needs to be informed. Parents need to receive accurate news. In our district we did a large lock down drill and it included the Massachusetts State Trooper Helicopter. As we knew this might cause quite a commotion, the police sent out a reverse 911 call to all homes in the vicinity letting them know that this was just a drill. The local news stations and papers were also notified.
Yesterday Boston had 3 bombs that created an emergency. Lock downs happened in businesses. News agencies reported many kinds of information, which at times was misleading. While it may not be intentional it does happen frequently as news agencies are competitive and want to be the first to get out information. We need to be patient and wait for accurate information.
News is important, we need to be kept informed with accurate details of an event. We also need leaders who can articulate the information to the public in a professional and efficient manner.
Boston. A city of Patriots. A city of hope. A city where the light of others shines bright. Thank you to the many first responders and citizens who jumped right in to help the injured. True Patriots. —
As I was home today watching the news unfold, I am thankful for the blessing in my life. This morning Steve (hubby) missed his bus into work. He did not realize the bus was running on a holiday schedule, so the turned around and returned home. He called in and got the OK to work from home.
At 3pm reports came on the TV about a bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Steve works less than a block from where the bomb went off that injured so many people and killed a few. I am thankful our family is all home safe. My thoughts and prayers are with the people involved who are injured and to those families who lost a loved one.
I am very thankful for the first responders and those ordinary citizens who did extraordinary efforts to aid and come to the rescue to those who were injured. They are the true heroes today.
After a lock down drill occurs there is a debriefing session with the administration and police to talk about what went right, and what could have been done better. Measuring the outcomes after an event and comparing them to the last drill helps the safety team make decisions for future drills. Adjustments can be made if necessary. Measurements are important in making assessments which will enable school staff members to make good decision in implementing school safety procedures.
What was once acceptable to practice fire drills, now lock down drills have become common place in many districts and required by law in some States.
In case you do not know what a lock down drill is, it is when a school has identified an intruder or an emergency, and students and staff quickly leave common areas and lock themselves into a safe and secure room that have identified safe spots. The point being is that if students and staff are locked in a room, the intruder will move on because they cannot get into the room.
As community members and parents we need to equip ourselves with knowledge. The phrase "knowledge is power" is key. I do not know how many incidents are adverted because of the preparation and planning of school personel and the knowledge they have in school safety. I am thankful for their efforts. We can never be totally prepared for an event, however the more knowledge that our students and students have, the greater the outcome will be and less damage will occur.
Are you learing more about school safety? Share your knowledge!
In art juxtaposition is placing two opposite things next to each other and leaving it up to the observer to establish connections and derive a meaning.
I want my children to go to school to learn, have fun and feel safe. I do not want them to feel like they are serving time.
At a recent forum I attended on school safety a parent asked a question during the Q&A about having a person designated at the front office that was firearm trained. The police chief responded to the question with a question, "Do we really want our kids to go to school with an armed guard at the entrance?" We are not sending our kids off to jail. As a community, I do not think that is what we are prepared to do, at least not yet.
There needs to be balance between two opposites. Protecting our kids and still letting our kids be kids. That is the juxtaposition.
I found this podcast when I was researching todays blog letter.
In order to keep our kids safe we need to keep bad people out of our schools. We need to identify those who are visiting our schools to ensure that those let through the doors will not harm anyone. When a visitor comes to the door they should show their ID ( Identification) before being able to enter the school. Whether it be a drivers license or some official government photo identification, it should be given to the security person at the front entrance.
Some schools use a sticker to identify the visitor. If school staff sees someone in the hallways that they do not recognize, or that does not have a visitor pass, they will stop the visitor and inquire who they are, and what their business is at the school. This is a safety precaution. Staff needs to be aware of any potential harm, or unrecognized strangers.
The newest trend is to have electronic ID checks. A scanner will take in the drivers license information and then generate a wearable label.
I think this is where most schools will be in the next 5 years. Technology has enabled security systems to be hooked up to crime data bases. This will help minimize exposure of our students to people who have done bad things in their past. Not only does the person need to be identified, they need to be tracked. A visitor that enters the building, needs to also leave in a timely manner. This ID tracking system helps monitor visits.
Today's blog letter is "H", and I had two main thoughts regarding "HELP". First was how can we as parents HELP prevent school shootings from even occurring. I found this great segment and agree with the discussion that took place. One thing that he said that prompted my second thought was that evil people are going to do what they plan on doing, and we need to ensure we are prepared to minimize loss. That led to my second "Help", which is the emergency notification.
What Parents can Do to HELP prevent school shootings:
Communicate with your children. Ask them how they are feeling. Ask them about their friends and if they have noticed any odd behaviors.
Are your kids being bullied, or do they know anyone being bullied?
Thoughts of Suicide or depression? If you kids have had them, seek out mental help professionals.
Tell kids importance of Lock down drills and how it will prepare them to act quickly in case of an emergency.
Help individuals in advance to prevent them from getting to the point of no return.
Calling for HELP:
Knowing how to call for help and how to communicate when there is an emergency is of critical importance in school safety. Seconds matter. When someone evil enough to come in and hurt children makes their way into a school, the faster the police are called, the more lives are saved. School safety then becomes more of how we can lessen the potential damage.
Our front desk staff at our schools need the resources to communicate. Many schools are installing emergency buttons that will be able to communicate to the district office and to the Police and Fire Departments.
180 days go by each school year, and fortunately without tragedy. However in recent years we have seen that gun violence has become a topic that has affected many of us who have school aged children. When we send our kids to school, the greatest expectation is that they will be safe.
I have only shot a gun at a range Breathe, THEN shoot. The last gun that I shot was the same type used in the Sandyhook shooting. Little did I now.
I believe that guns in our schools are a bad idea.
I believe in our 2nd amendment rights to bear arms. I believe that there does need to be a stronger universal background check system in place in order to purchase a firearm. ( I also believe that there should be a national background check for sex offenders, but that is another topic)
We need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. The problem arises and the challenge is that criminals do not follow the law. We can change all the laws that we want, but that is not going to solve all of the problems we are facing in our society. We need to change the penalty as well. We need to get and keep criminals off the streets. We need judges who are firmer and not afraid to send people to jail when they break the law. We need to ensure that people who have mental illness are not able to purchase a firearm. We need tough penalties for people who purchase firearms for people who cannot get them themselves.
Guns in entertainment. How many shoot-em-up movies do we need to see? Hollywood seems to think that the more gruesome the better. And video games? Don't get me started! Hollywood produces what an audience demands. I think film makers need to take some responsibility in how our society has become so desensitized to gun violence.
Passing laws might make us feel better, (but remember, criminals do not obey the law), however real change will occur when we as a society will not accept the portrayal of gun violence on our TV's or Movie screens. When we can turn off the TV and actually talk to our neighbor. When we can be more compassionate towards one another. I believe that is when real change will occur.
What do you think about gun violence in America? I would like to hear your views. Since this is such a hot topic, please be respectful and kind by not bashing either political party.
When I was in elementary school in the early 1970's I remember participating in air raid drills. We heard a bell and hid under our desks. Another drill was to leave the classroom and congregate in the gym which was in the basement. I also remember fire drills. We would hear another type of bell and all file out onto the playground.
Yearly we practiced these drills and became familiar with what to do in case of an emergency. Fortunately our school never had a fire or was attacked by air.
Fast forward now to my children's school day. They do not have air raid drills, but for the past 4 years they have been participating in lock down drills. Maybe your kids have come home and have shared with you their experiences with lock down drills, if not ask them if they have drills. If your child has not participated in a lock down drill, I would be very concerned. In our district lock down drills have become as routine as fire drills and kids are familiar with their responsibility of participation.
Why do schools do lock down or fire drills? Students need to have familiarization with what to do in case of an emergency. ( I will get to lock down drills with the letter L later in the month!)
It is imperative for parents to have the same familiarization that their kids have with the safety procedures at the schools where their children attend. If you are not aware of the procedures your school has in place, I suggest making a phone call to the principal to request a copy of the safety procedures.
The entrance and exits to a school are critical points to school safety. It is a way for children to enter school, then a place to keep under tight security until students leave for the day. The entrance should be locked at all times once the bell rings and school is in session.
Have you driven by a school and wondered what the letters on the outside of the building meant?
They are there for emergency purposes.
The letter A is placed at the main entrance. Letters go clockwise (to the left) for each side of the building. If an emergency is called and the closest entrance is D, they can go right to that area. This can be critical if an ambulance comes and time is of the essence.
Last night I attended a mandatory pre-prom assembly with my son who is a junior in High School. There were 2 speakers who shared their stories with us. They were not there to give a speech or to talk down to the kids. They were there to share their stories about decisions that were made that changed their life.
The first person to share their story was Mike Caple. Mike is the Visual Arts Director in our school district. He described the night when he was living in California and he received a phone call from his mother here in Massachusetts that his younger brother had been in a car accident. With in hours Mike was on a plane coming home. His teen age brother had made the decision to get into a car with someone who had been drinking. Four teenagers made bad decisions that night. One did not survive.
The second person to share their story was Matt Clarke. When he was a senior in high school, a few months before graduation, he and his best friend Paul went to a party. Matt woke up the next day in a hospital not remembering anything. He found out that he and Paul had been in car accident and that Paul did not make it. Paul was killed on impact. Matt spoke about how this one decision to get in the car and drive while he was drunk changed his and many other lives around him. He spent 2 years in jail. Paul's biggest message was not to "lecture" kids, as he stated that he never listened to speeches himself. He talked about making decisions.
This video is of Matt and his song that he wrote to help connect to others about his experience. It was filmed at Plymouth North High School earlier in the year. He performed it last night. He is a very talented young man. I admire the courage he had to get up and speak to a room full of kids and adults and share his story. He wants to make a difference in the lives of others, and hopefully show to kids and adults that decision making is critical.
Personal responsibility and decision making is what we need to teach to our kids. We can only do that if we ourselves are the best examples for them to follow. Mike talked about how both deaths were 100% preventable. I am sure you know of someone (maybe even yourself), who has gotten behind the wheel of a car after a few drinks and have driven drunk. Do not do it. Make the decision now to keep people safe. 30 people die each day from a result of a drunk driver. Thats 11,000 lives lost each year that were 100% preventable.
It was an opportune time to have a wonderful conversation with my 17 year old son. Making good decisions now will save lives in the future. My son and I made a commitment to each other. His biggest concern was not himself drinking, but his other friends around him. I assured him that if he was EVER in a bad situation, his dad and I would come and get him, no questions asked. We rather have the phone call for a ride home, that a visit from a police officer.
Make good decisions. Take personal responsibility to save lives and keep our children safe.
Each school district should have a safety committee. It is imperative to have open communication between everyone who is directly involved with children.
The Plymouth Public Schools Safety Committee meet once a month. The committee consists of the following individuals:
School Board Member (Me)
Superintendent of Schools
School Resource Officers
Fire Chief and/or captains
High School Principal
Middle School Principal
Elementary School Principal
Emergency Management Director
School Business Manager
We had our monthly meeting yesterday. On the agenda:
School Bus Safety ~ We received a report from our bus company and how now they have 2 cameras on each bus to ensure the safety of our kids.
Emergency Crisis Manual ~ We have updated our procedures and it was for final review before printing.
After the Connecticut tragedy our committee hosted an open forum/panel for parent to attend. It was well attended and the community was appreciative of our efforts. Here is a write up of in our local paper : Keeping Plymouth Staff and Students Safe
It is amazing to have such great leaders in one room discussing the safety of our children. Check with your school to see if they have a safety committee. If they do not find out WHY, and then suggest starting one.
A child cannot learn in school if they do not feel safe. It is up to the caring adults in the community and the school to provide safe environment where children can receive their education. A place where actions by bullies are not tolerated.
There are 3 victims in Bullying
1) Bully (yes they are a victim and I will get to that later)
I say the school bully is a victim because they do not have the proper tools to express themselves. Many times they have been the victim of bullying and intimidation themselves, and this is the only way they know how to act. Many learn from their parents and/or adults that are around them acting out of control. As parents we need to be mindful of the example we set for our children. Sometimes the apple does not fall far from the tree.
We don't always know why targets are targets. Shy kids. Geeky kids. Even popular kids are bullied. Bullying crosses race, gender and socioeconomic lines.
For the bystanders ( the kids who see the bullying) we need to teach our children empathy, and we need to encourage them to have a voice and speak out if they see something going on that they know is not right. We need to act on this now, and not sit back and let someone else take care of it.
All 3 are victims and we need to find ways to eliminate bullying in our schools. Remember that they are ALL children, and they all need our guidance and support.
Don't know where to start? Here are 10 things you can do right now!
Basically each school ( and district) should have a plan in place for most emergencies and how they will follow procedures in the event that something happens during the day while children are at school.
Ask to see a copy of your schools action plan. If they do not have one, well suggest right quick that you would like to be on a committee to get one started!