Identifying & Avoiding Threats to Personal Safety

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda has taught high school science for over 10 years. She has a Master's Degree in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from Tufts Medical School and a Master's of Teaching from Simmons College. She is also certified in secondary special education, biology, and physics in Massachusetts.

In this lesson, you'll be learning about how to increase your students' personal safety. We'll go over ways to improve safety at school, as well as ways to teach them to be safe at home and on the way to and from school. This lesson will explore ways to teach young students and high school students about personal safety.

What Are Threats to Personal Safety?

As a teacher, we always want to make sure our students are safe, happy, and cared for. However, there are certainly times when this is out of our control, such as when they commute to and from school, when they are at home, or with their friends. We do our best to set norms in the classroom to help students learn good habits, but we also need to explicitly teach them how to stay safe. In this lesson, you'll be learning some of the main threats to students' personal safety and tips on how to educate them to stay safe on their own.

Teaching Safety Precautions

Safety lessons are absolutely crucial for younger children, who are still learning how to navigate the world. However, there are plenty of safety topics that teens need as well. Although they might know how to cross the street, they might not know about the dangers of drugs alcohol, or basics about their sexual health. Depending on what age range you teach, the topics will vary. Here, we'll give an example for both younger and older students.

At School

The area you as a teacher have the most control over is school. Some explicit ways we can teach students to be safe are by establishing norms of 'Hands to yourself', which encourages students to respect each other's space. This is applicable to all age groups, even teenagers where unwanted touch may be a sign of sexual interest or physical threat.

Creating a positive school culture prevents many instances of physical violence in both elementary, middle, and high school. Teaching students that we are part of a community encourages them to treat each other with respect, even without explicit rules about fighting.

Creating a positive classroom culture increases personal safety
classroom culture

School isn't just about creating a space safe from physical violence, but also emotional violence. Bullying is a huge problem, especially in middle school and high school. Every school should have a plan of action for bullying, with clear interventions, both to support the emotional health of the victim, and the bully, who is also often traumatized themselves.

Besides staying safe from visible threats, there are also microscopic ones: germs. Bacteria and viruses sweep through schools like an invading army. Keeping our students, and staff, safe from sickness can be a big challenge in such close quarters. Keep alcohol based hand sanitizer, tissues, and plenty of soap and water to prevent the transmission of disease.

After School

Unfortunately, once students leave school, we have no control over their safety. We hope that students can apply the lessons from school when they leave, but it's also important to teach them explicit ways to stay safe in between school and home. For younger students, it's important to remind them to wait until a parent or guardian picks them up, either from school or at the bus stop. If they have to go home alone, remind them to look both ways before crossing the street and never to talk to strangers on the street. You can call home to talk to the family about arranging a pickup as well. Very young students should not be on the street alone.

Younger children should listen to the crossing guard and meet an adult after school
crossing guard

Older students can usually find their way home, but the same cautions apply. Teenagers are notorious for being glued to their phones. Reminding them to look up before crossing the street, and keep aware of their surroundings by not playing music too loudly can help keep them out of dangerous situations. Explain about taking well-lit routes and crossing the street if trouble appears on their side.

Walking with a phone and headphones can increase safety risks
walking with phone

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