School Shootings: How to Prepare our Kids

ONE school shooting is too many!  What are schools across the country doing to improve school safety and avoid school shootings?  How are children handling school preparedness?  Do students feel safe in school?

In response to recent school shootings, school security measures may actually be doing more to scare kids than protect them. It’s worth examining the notion that in our attempt to prepare and secure our schools, we might be overlooking some basic steps schools can take to improve safety that don’t terrify kids.

Security suggestions should include:

  1. Police and other first responders take regular tours of school grounds so that they become familiar with building layouts.
  2. Use apps available to alert teachers and school leadership about potential threats.
  3. While protecting students’ rights, set up a collaborative environment where parents, staff and kids are free to report any troubling behavior or potential incidents.
  4. Fund more qualified counselors and social workers to help with student mental health issues to discuss school shootings.
  5. Train staff in threat assessment management.
  6. Invite experts to evaluate the safety of school buildings themselves. Take into consideration entrances and exits, fenced areas, secured doors, fire code rules, cameras, how visitors gain access (ID, sign in, etc.) and mandatory school safety training for all staff.
  7. Emergency procedures must be clear and simple, rehearsed and practiced.

Rather than live in fear and create anxiety for kids, be prepared, be ready!

FERPA and Social Networking

School district personnel need to ask the question:  Is your use of social networking FERPA compliant?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.  You can read more about FERPA at their website.

There are things schools may disclose with or without consent of parents or eligible students but it is important to know the distinction.

Teens are heavy users of social networking and do not seem to be overly concerned about giving out sensitive personal information. Yet educators must be vigilant about releasing personal student data.

Nothing we do on the web is private.  Find out about what’s protected under FERPA. Share some scenarios or guidelines that will help facilitate discussion and understanding amongst colleagues and parents.

What Parents And Teachers Can Do To Prevent Cyberbullying

We have all heard stories and read statistics about cyberbullying at home and on school campuses. Parents and teachers need to work together to combat this epidemic.

According to Cyberbullying Statistics:

~Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.

~More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats.

~Over 25% of adolescents and teens have been bullied  repeatedly or through their cell phones or the internet.

~Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs.

Some TIPS on how can parents and teachers prevent bullying..

* Be aware of what kids are doing online.

* Become familiar with warning signs that your child or student is a victim of cyberbullying.

* Talk to your child or student about what is happening.

* Talk to your child or student about who is involved in the bullying.

* Document or keep records of everything happening.

* Intervene and/or get help for the victim(s) being bullied.

* Reach out to the bully to express your concern.

Cyberbullying is rarely limited to one or two incidents so teachers and parents will likely need to be as persistent as the bully in terms of documenting, blocking, and/or reporting what is happening online.  Consider involving counselors, mental health professionals, and law enforcement if needed. No one should ever have to put up with cyberbullying!