How Students Can Help Create Safe Schools

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

Sending students to school can be anxiety provoking for parents who see school violence media reports on a regular basis. This lesson will focus on student involvement in creating safe schools and provide some ideas on how this can be accomplished.

Shooting at Columbine High

On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot and killed 13 people and wounded 23 more at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. They killed themselves before they could be apprehended by law enforcement. The shooting underscored the importance of creating safe school environments where students are protected from violence.

Some School Violence Statistics

Every two years, the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey or YRBS is conducted in private and public schools for 9th to 12th graders. This survey attempts to gather data regarding student risk behaviors that could contribute to violence in schools. The 2015 survey concluded that:

  • 6 percent of those surveyed indicated being intimidated or hurt by some sort of weapon in the year proceeding the survey
  • 4 percent of those surveyed indicated bringing some sort of weapon to school in the month proceeding the survey
  • 7.8 percent of those surveyed indicated being involved in a physical altercation at school in the year proceeding the survey
  • 20.2 percent of those surveyed indicated being bullied at school in the year proceeding the survey
  • 5.6 percent of those surveyed said they skipped school because they feared being harmed or felt unsafe in the month proceeding the survey

How Students Can Help to Make Schools Safe

The statistics shared above indicate the need for schools to take student safety at school seriously. The best approach to creating safe schools is a collaborative approach that involves administrators, teachers, parents, and most importantly of all, students themselves. Let's take a look at how students can help to create a safe environment at school:

  • Create a student group promoting school safety - this group can be in charge of promoting anti-bullying campaigns, putting in place a student tip line, and putting together a school safety awareness week.
  • Include students in school board meetings - have a student body representation so that issues affecting students can be discussed.
  • Put a student justice system in place - have students decide on the punishment for those that, for example, are truant, involved in minor altercations, disrespectful to teachers, or vandalize school property.
  • Provide community service hours for those who volunteer to improve school appearance
  • Coordinate activities for students and school police officers.
  • Encourage and rewards violence prevention anonymous reporting.
  • Create a process that helps students feel safe when reporting bullying, weapons possession, and crimes committed by other students.
  • Develop a student mentor program for students who are new to the school or those who are being targeted by bullies.
  • Encourage students to talk to each other, and when necessary, seek help and advice from a trusted adult, such as a teacher or school counselor.

Benefits of Creating Safe Schools

There are several benefits associated with creating a safe school environment. These benefits include:

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