In the light of the Sandy Hook tragedy and a smattering of school shootings over the course of 2012, many parents are beginning to wonder in earnest if their children are actually safe in their schools. Fears of violent attacks aside, you may also be wondering if your little ones would be adequately protected and looked after in the event of a natural disaster or catastrophic weather conditions. While there is no surefire way to predict the future, there are steps you can take as a parent to ensure that the children in your child’s school are being protected and kept safe to the best of the administrators’ abilities.
The only way that you can actively observe your kids’ schools and the daily procedures that are in place is to visit. Be sure that you stop at the office to explain your presence, prove that you are the parent of a student and ask for a tour. Watching the children as they make their way to classes and seeing common areas and safety features for yourself will allow you to not only determine how the school is operated and if you feel that their practices are safe, it will also help you learn more about the layout of the school in case of an emergency. Taking the time to visit your child’s school will also provide you with the opportunity to do a bit more in-depth investigation.
Communicate With Administrators and Teachers
During a visit to the school, you’ll be able to see the daily operations and routines. More importantly, however, you’ll be able to meet with and talk to your child’s teachers, school administrators and others in positions of power. You can ask them about any procedures they have in place for managing a violent attack on the school, how they deal with violence between students, the official stance and repercussions for bullying and what procedures are in place for managing dangerous weather conditions. Sometimes speaking to administrators and getting the chance to become acquainted with them will be enough to ease your mind altogether.
Talk to Your Child
The best source of information at your child’s school is your child. He knows more about the daily goings-on than you could ever determine just by visiting, and also understands the inner workings of both the student body and school administrations. If he seems hesitant to discuss certain subjects or exhibits signs of fear, reluctance to go to school or frequently feigns illness, there may be a chance that he simply does not feel safe there. While it is wise to keep in mind that kids can be prone to exaggeration when they’re under stress or worried about world events, there could be some truth to your child’s statements. Administrators and staff can put on a convincing face for visiting parents, especially when they’re expecting them and have time to prepare statements. Kids that spend the majority of their days in the school, however, may have a more realistic view of them.
Examine Disciplinary Policies
In the hustle and bustle of the back-to-school rush, it can be easy to toss your child’s student handbook aside for later perusal and simply never get to it. Those documents, however, almost always contain valuable information about procedures and policies, including disciplinary actions. Knowing what the school is willing to subject a child to in the name of punishment and whether or not those disciplinary actions line up with your own parenting procedures can give you an even greater idea of the school’s safety level.
Consider Emergency and Disaster Plans
After a violent attack on schoolchildren is sensationalized in the news, it’s easy to focus solely on the possibility of violence. Because some areas of the country are more prone to some natural disasters and weather problems than others, you’ll need to know what the emergency and disaster plan is for severe weather in your area. Knowing what plans the school has in place for such situations and how well-prepared they would be in the event of a disaster striking your individual geographic area will help you be more informed when deciding whether or not your kids are safe in their schools.