A Serious Look at School Safety by Charlie Hammonds
Having been a police officer for over 30 years, and having worked as a school resource officer for five years with a K-9, I have some insight into school safety concerns. I am now a high school forensics science instructor, and I am able to see the world of education from a new perspective.
Our schools today are overwhelmed by to-do lists. Every year new protocols, guidelines, and standards are pushed on administrators and teachers alike. Teachers hardly have time to achieve the tasks at hand, and rarely consider campus safety concerns. With all that being said, we have a true need in creating the safest environment for the students. In order to do that, we need to have every employee, staff member, volunteer and student to buy in to school safety.
How do we achieve this?
In safety and security you are only as strong as the weakest link. I challenge anyone to walk around the perimeter of their building and see how many doors are found propped open or unlocked for easy access by the staff.
Next, we need to build a connection between every student and one or more staff members at the school. There is a program that was started, I believe, in California, I read about several years ago called the “Star Program.” In this program, the staff would meet; custodians, cooks, teachers, and administrators would get together at the beginning of the year and go through the names of all the students. If one of the staff personally knew a student, a star would be put by the student’s name– if more than one staff member knew the student, they would add another star. After they went through the entire roster, they would notice students without stars. The administrators would then assign staff members to become personally associated with those students, and they would then begin building relationships with the students. This program costs little to nothing. The reasoning is this– if a student feels they have personal ties to the school, they are less likely to act out at the school or against the school.
These are just a couple of examples that could help achieve a safer school environment today. I hope to put more suggestions out as time goes by.
Remember we are the ones who can make our schools safer, and if we don’t who will?
Instructor/First Responder at Collins Career and Technical Center
Thank you, Charlie, for sharing your thoughts on school safety with our community!