Posted: November 26th, 2013
Comprehensive School Safety Program
Schooling is a fundamental element in the healthy development of children since this is where they are able to learn most of the things concerning them and their environment. The fact that school going children spend a bigger percentage of their time away from their parents means that they have to learn how to be independent and how to defend themselves. Children are most likely to pick most of their habits from their peers in school. Teachers do monitor their conduct and development but they may fail to recognize many things due to the large number of students needing the attention (Johnson & Holdaway, 2010). Due to this, many things are bound to happen in a school environment that can cause harm to the students. Some of these include bullying, sexual assault by teachers and fellow students, fire outbreaks, violence amongst the students and the danger of falling objects or collapsing buildings. This explains the need to have in place a comprehensive school safety program that aims at preventing such things from happening or minimizing the damage once, they occur.
Importance of a comprehensive school safety program
One of the major importances of school safety programs is because safety is mandatory for the healthy development of any child. These safety programs should be in a position to eliminate the hazards mentioned above hence ensuring the environment is conducive for learning (S. Hill & W. Hill, 2006). When a student is faced with a threat to their safety, their concentration span seems to go down since they are constantly thinking of ways in which they can defend or protect themselves. These events also breed fear in the students hence reducing their learning capacity. Issues such as bullying often lead to a loss of self-esteem in children and a single incident of such may affect them in the end. In fact, research conducted on the emergence of this behavior in children reveals that a child who has been bullied ends up becoming a bully too. This behavior develops even up to adulthood and ends up affecting the person psychologically.
Another importance of having school safety programs is to eliminate the possibility of bringing up juvenile delinquents. Children who have been hurt in school, either physically or psychologically end up developing the habit of hurting others to compensate for their pain. Since the main aim of the school safety program is to safeguard the students from harm, this will prevent them from developing such revenge-based behavior hence leading to the development of psychologically and physically healthy individuals. Besides this, school safety programs enable parents to have the confidence that their children are safe in their respective schools. In the recent past, the deterioration of safety has led parents to taking actions such as hiring private instructors to educate their children from home. This applies mostly to the young graders who are vulnerable to getting hurt in school (Patton, 2008). This is however not healthy for the overall development of the child, since there is more to school than just the education. The administration in schools should therefore ensure that the parents have the confidence that their children will be safe in the schools and this is only possible with the development and implementation of a comprehensive school safety program.
Role of schools and the community in achieving safety programs in schools.
The task of resolving safety issues in schools lies both in the hands of the school administration and the community. The children who attend schools in various places are most likely to be hailing from the nearby surroundings. Different neighborhoods are known to have different behavior traits which children are exposed to at an early age (S. Hill & W. Hill, 2006). This therefore means that the first step in ensuring safety in schools is to fight negative behavior in the community such as drug abuse, racial discrimination and any other form of violence including domestic violence. Parents should be enlightened on the importance of avoiding fights in the presence of their children since these are the habits that they pick from home and apply them in school when interacting with their fellow students. Besides the violence, sexual habits that happen to be on the rise in schools should also be done in their absence. Children at the early age of schooling learn by observing their surrounding and experimenting what they observe. Habits such as public display of affection should therefore be banned from the streets and such incidents should be treated like criminal offences. This is only possible if the community agrees to work hand-in-hand with the school administration to ensure proper development of children.
Most of the children living in poor neighborhoods are introduced to gang life at a very tender age. They then join schools and introduce their schoolmates to such behavior hence posing serious danger to other students in school. They tend to carry dangerous weapons such as guns and knives to school for purposes of revenge and to carry out destructive activities just for fun. Such students put the whole school and community in danger since they break the schools rules and punishing them can cause more havoc. According to gang experts, the main approach of ensuring that such habits do not find their way in schools is by “establishing codes of conduct, creating diligent awareness of gang rivalries, coming up with prevention courses and ensuring community and parental involvement in gang eradication” (S. Hill & W. Hill, 2006). The community should set up rehabilitation centers in the neighborhoods where parents can take their children who have taken the gang behavior to be corrected. This should be a place where they are imprisoned until they show the willingness to change, after which they are provided with psychological counseling to get rid of the criminal mindset. This is a better set up compared to sending them to prison where they get to learn more on crime from other in mates and may end-up worse off than they were before.
With regards to the safety issues related to collapsing buildings and physical harm, the school’s administration needs to ensure that the building are of good quality and approved by qualified architects. In some cases, such hazards are usually brought about by greed on the part of the administration in the sense that they may think of using low cost materials so they can spend less in developing the school’s infrastructure. In the short-term, it may work just fine but its long-term cost might be very serious to the extent of costing people their lives. If such scenarios are discovered, the community should inform the authorities for relevant measures to be taken (Hyman & Snook, 2009). Any other facilities in schools that pose a threat to the lives of the students such as swimming pools and fishponds should be safeguarded in such a way that any possible threat they may pose to the safety of students and staff is eliminated. This does not apply only in the school compound but also in the neighborhood where trenches and other infrastructure still under construction should be well safeguarded. Such measures can only work effectively when the school’s administration as well as the community is responsible and accountable for the infrastructure they put up to aide in the development of the children.
Another way in which the community can work together with the school administration to ensure safety is by coming up with spacious school environments whereby there is no congestion of buildings. Before parents admit their children to any school, they should ensure that safety guidelines were adhered to when constructing the buildings. This includes the ventilation, emergency alert system, and emergency exit points (Hyman & Snook, 2009). This should be structured with the help of professional architects who are widely known to the community and authorities to avoid cases of fraudulent architects who do low quality work and then disappear. The construction of safe schools can be made possible by implementing the preventing crime through design policy. This policy has been adopted by many schools and it involves the designing of classroom buildings with well-arranged window grills. They then put up automated emergency exits, which can only be used once by triggering it to open, after which it has to be repaired before being useful again.
There has been an increasing tendency of economizing on space by constructing high-rise buildings especially in private schools. This is a serious threat to the lives of the students since an incident of collapsing buildings can bring about massive loss of lives. Investors in the school business should therefore be discouraged from putting their selfish interest ahead of other people’s lives (Patton, 2008). Alternatively, the authorities can ensure that such buildings are banned and demolished while the owners can be compensated for the loss. School fences should also be electrified and connected with alarm and camera surveillance system such that any unauthorized entry can be reported and traced immediately. School buildings should also be constructed away from public streets and every part of the schools needs to be opened up such that there are no hiding places within the school. These should especially be enhanced more in boarding schools where the students spend the night within the school premises.
From the above discussion, it is evident that there are many threats to safety in schools. This therefore calls for much attention in these institutions not only from the administration but also from the community and the authorities as well. They should all work together to come up with an effective safety system that will protect the students from both psychological and physical harm caused by the factors discussed above. This will ensure that the learning process is not interrupted and that the environment is conducive for learning. It will also reduce the rates of crime since the criminal behavior in people always starts at a tender age, mostly during the school period.
Hill, M. S., & Hill, F. W. (2006). Creating safe schools: What principals can do. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.
Huff, C. R. (2005). Gangs in America III. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Hyman, I. A., & Snook, P. A. (2009). Dangerous schools: What we can do about the physical and emotional abuse of our children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Patton, J. D. (2008). Community organizations’ involvement in school safety planning: does it make a difference in school violence? Texas: University of Texas at Arlington.
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