It’s a sad reality that we have to worry about keeping children safe at school. What’s the best way to ensure student safety at school without frightening your children? Here are some ideas.
Need a quick rundown? Here’s the outline of Bulletproof Backpacks For Kids (6 Tips To Keep Your Children Safe At School):
1. Get Them There Safely
Make sure your kids are safe before they get to school. If your children walk or bike to school, help them map out a safe route. Teach them to avoid vacant lots, abandoned buildings or areas that are not well-populated.
If they take the school bus, teach them how to wait in a safe space and how to board it correctly. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, bullying frequently starts on school buses:
“Ask children about their bus: Who they sit with, who they talk to and what the other kids do. Let them know that if they see someone being bullied, or are bullied themselves, they can talk to you, the bus driver or another trusted adult.”
I’m still amazed when my grown children talk about situations that occurred when they were in school. When I ask why they didn’t tell me at the time a situation was happening, their response is always they same. They assumed the adults knew what was going on.
You have to ask, and keep asking.
Know the Numbers
Every child should know your work number, cell number and the numbers of other trusted adults. It’s a good idea to write these down on a card that your child can carry at all times. You can also program numbers into your child’s cell phone.
Every family needs an emergency plan in case of natural disaster, attack, power outage or other dangerous situations. You never know when disaster can strike. Having a plan helps keep everyone from panicking and saves you valuable time.
Every family member should:
- Know where the family meeting place is.
- Have a fully charged, working cell phone.
- Know alternate routes to get home.
- Know where the exits are in every public place.
As a classroom teacher, I would spend time the first or second day of school each year reviewing safety measures with my classes. I’d open the floor to student questions, and often invite our Resource Officer in to field questions if it seemed appropriate.
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has excellent suggestions on planning for every type of emergency. It’s a great idea to establish a plan and run practice drills with your family.
3. Monitor Their Social Media
Schools and law enforcement don’t treat social media posts about violence as a joke. On the contrary, school security officials are taking these jokes and threats very seriously. Across the country, law enforcement officials are arresting teens who post troubling material on their social media.
If your child is active on social media, monitor their use of it regularly. Make sure they understand that jokes about blowing up the school, killing teachers or hurting other students are not acceptable and could get them in serious trouble.
Derek Maul at AllProDad offers advice that isn’t about buying protective gear or involving law enforcement. His advice is to foster prosocial behavior in your children. For instance, teach your children to be kind to kids who are being bullied at school. Student safety at school starts with ending the dangerous “bully culture.”
Be Open to Your Child’s Struggles
He also says that you should be a parent who’s open to anything your child is struggling with. We know from news reports that many people who commit violent crimes were struggling with mental health issues.
Some of them were involved in groups that promote violence, conspiracy theories or hatred of other people. If your child is having contact with this type of group, you need to know it so that you can intervene.
“Children need to know that they can come to their parents with anything,” Maul writes. “Once any topic becomes taboo, it opens up the possibility that parents don’t want to know what’s going on in their kids’ lives. Like it or not, parents must have information at their fingertips. If you tend to react and repress certain topics, that’s a move away from safety.”
5. Teach Your Kids to Speak Up
Steve Albrecht is a former police officer, a psychologist and an expert on school and workplace violence. In an article for Psychology Today, he stresses that most school shooters telegraph their intentions ahead of time. He points to findings by the FBI and Secret Service that almost all school shooters first tested the waters by talking about people they wanted to kill.
It’s crucial to teach your children to speak up if they hear anything suspicious. It might just be joking or bragging with no real intention to do harm, but it might also be a signal that someone plans to take action.
Albrecht suggests keeping an eye on your child’s friends.
“You can talk to your child about making good choices and staying away from other kids who are fighters, bullies, overly aggressive, thugs, gang members, thieves, dopers, weapons possessors, chronic rule-breakers and teacher-challengers,” he writes.
“But while the loud ones may want to cause problems, the quiet ones, the social misfits, and the angry or depressed loners may want to take lives.”
6. Bulletproof Backpacks and Clothing
The growing fear about student safety at school has led some people to think that bulletproof clothing is the only answer. Fashion designers and specialty retailers are selling bulletproof jackets, hoodies and backpacks to worried parents.
A Misguided Move
Although his company sells self-defense training and bulletproof gear, he points out that most people don’t realize what they’re buying.
There are several levels of bullet protection ranging from Type 2A to Type 4. Only Type 4 can protect against the assault rifles that some school shooters have used.
“People are purchasing backpacks that are level 3A protection,” Ross writes. “Our factory is getting flooded with calls and emails. Before you purchase anything, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting, because that 3A level backpack ain’t stopping an assault rifle.”
In fact, an assault rifle “will go through that backpack like butter.”
Communication Is Key
It’s clear that a big part of keeping children safe at school is keeping the lines of communication open. Know who your children’s friends are, who they talk to on social media, what they talk about and what’s bothering them. You’ll gain valuable knowledge that can protect your child from harm.
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