Here are the next steps toward safer schools and students in 2022

Recently, around 80% of public schools recorded one or more incidents of violence, theft or other crimes
By: | January 3, 2022
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Chris Holbert

Chris Holbert

Heading to school shouldn’t mean worrying for students, staff, and parents. However, in recent years, schools have seen an increase in violent threats.

Recently, around 80% of public schools recorded one or more incidents of violence, theft or other crimes, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In conjunction with current safety measures, an updated method of communication, multiple evacuation routes and new self-defense options, it’s a critical time for schools to take action and provide an extra set of safety measures.

1. More methods of communication

Communication is an important key to safety. While there are sound-systems, walkie talkies and even mobile devices that staff and students can use, these often aren’t fast enough when split-second communication is necessary. Schools need to invest in communication devices that can connect staff or students with the police or medical responders in an instant.

There are devices on the market that at the push of a button can be used to report the location of a medical emergency or safety emergency without any actual verbal communication. An important safety investment starts with these devices.

2. Awareness

Teaching students, teachers and administrators to remain aware of their surroundings is a critical first step in improving overall safety. This is more than asking them to stay aware and report anything out of the ordinary that they see. This involves creating a link between keeping your eyes up, away from your phones as you walk through the halls or around campus.

This new level of awareness is not complicated, it simply re-prioritizes the importance of keeping your eyes up, noticing who is near you, who is walking in your direction, what they are doing, observing their demeanor, and always understanding your exit options should something occur.

3. Multiple evacuation routes

Drills where students and staff walk evacuation routes is important, but what happens when the one route from that room isn’t accessible in an emergency? Multiple evacuation routes are necessary for each room. This not only provides another way for students and staff to escape but can also help them stay calm during emergencies and stressful situations where an evacuation is necessary.

4. New self-defense options

Self-defense options are necessary in today’s schools; from regular self-defense training for staff to non-physical options such as keychain alarms, pepper spray stowed in a safe, secure, yet accessible place in case of emergencies.

These simple precautionary protocols can make a vast difference in the safety of schools by providing staff with safety techniques and tactics that allow them to protect not only themselves but also students. If staff is able to detect a potentially violent situation by taking self-defense classes that can teach them about physical cues, this can also help them de-escalate situations.

5. Implement anonymous reporting systems

Oftentimes, students and even staff may observe behavior or actions that should be reported. But due to fear of someone finding out who reported them, they may not tell anyone until it is too late.

Anonymous reporting systems, such as dropping a note in a box, allow for students and staff to report what they saw or know while simultaneously keeping themselves anonymous and separated from the situation. It is important for schools to maintain the anonymity of the student or staff member that reported a situation as well.

6. Offer mental health support

Whether this is implemented through school counselors or some other mental health advisors (school psychologists, social workers, etc.) creating an environment where students and even staff feel they can express their needs and concerns without judgment is crucial. Mental health issues can create destructive behaviors without taking the proper time to assess and work through them.

During especially stressful times—end of the year, exam periods—there should be a wide variety of mental health support options available to both students and staff on school grounds.

Chris Holbert is the CEO of SecuraTrac, a mobile safety solutions provider.