Education is important in not only acquiring knowledge but in securing a good future too. We all want our children to get the best education, but the safety of the school your child goes to should also be a priority. There are things that indicate a safe and secure school environment that you should look out for.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places safety as being the fundamental need that must be met in order to reach higher levels of performance. The same can be said about the safety of schools. A safe school is not only beneficial for learning but helps in cultivating socially appropriate behaviour in your child. There are many factors that can easily determine whether a school prioritizes the safety of its learners and these factors include the following:
- Emphasis on following the student code of conduct
A student code of conduct contains the rules and guidelines that are to be followed by students in order to maintain order and structure in the school. A student failing to follow the stipulated rules set out by the code of conduct results in consequences that must be issued by the school’s authority. A code of conduct not only sets out expectations for students in that school, it is also done so to regulate student behavior. This is effective in promoting the safety and protection of the students, teachers and the school authority.
- Written safety plans
Written safety plans are important in preventing chaos and injuries when disaster strikes. Schools that create safety plans beforehand are better able to handle emergency such as fires which is essential in ensuring the safety of student. Schools that have safety plans will usually practice safety drills as well ensure that students and teachers are well prepared for emergencies. These safety drills should also be practiced regularly at different times of the day so that students become familiar with different routines and routes for safety.
- Students are treated with respect
Safe schools tend to treat all their students fairly without any bias based on gender, ethnicity, race, social class, disability, and physical appearance. Fair treatment is not only limited to the teachers, but it also extends to other students. Any students who treat others unfairly are to face consequences, especially if they incite violence. Safe schools prioritize clear communication to students that they should respect and value one another. They also make it a point to extend that respect to their learners by ensuring that they establish a climate that shows care for their students and they constantly feel as if they are part of the community.
- Students can openly share their concerns
Children are exposed to different things because of the media and they lead to them forming their own perceptions and misconceptions. The school should allow them to openly share any concerns that they might have especially regarding violence. They should learn from the school how they are to handle it in a non-violent manner but through verbally expressing feelings that they have. They are to learn about accountability and how each action has its own consequences.
- Develop links in the community
Safe schools are not safe because only the school makes the effort. There should be effort from other support systems as well. In most instances it requires added support from the local police. There have been added safety risks over the years and violence isn’t the only issue to worry about, but there is the issue of cyberbullying or drug use additionally. Regular police school visits give the police an opportunity to talk to students regarding some of these issues. This helps create an environment for students where they will feel safe, respected and valued.
- Offer after school programs for children
An indication of a safe school is it offering plenty of after school programs for their students. These programs have been shown to support emotional, social, cognitive and academic development, while being effective in reducing violent and risky behavior. After school programs are able to better manage emotions and create better personal and collective goals, while creating and maintaining supportive relationships. After school programs are able to decrease the opportunities for violence and increase safety due to the added adult supervision. This adult supervision not only promotes personal safety but it promotes positive youth development and creates an environment where students are able to thrive.
- Prioritize academic achievement
You can determine whether or not a school is safe by the emphasis that is placed on academic achievement. A safe and effective school understands and respects the differences that each learner has and aims to have each student perform to the best of their ability academically. They will check to see that each student receives all the necessary resources and support required to perform at their best.
- Access to student support
A huge part of feeling safe is receiving support from the school. An indicator of this are schools having school counsellors. They are able to offer assistance to students regarding their academic future and career guidance as well as give students the platform to talk about any social challenges that could negatively impact their success in the future. Addressing these issues with students will increase their motivation and facilitate their exploration of suitable careers.
School counsellors also offer emotional support to learners, especially if they are dealing with issues that they feel they can’t address with their parents. They can encourage students to talk to their parents about the issues they are worried about.
The journey to finding a safe and secure school for your child is not easy, but it is important that you follow the tips offered above so you can find a school environment where your children will be safe so that they can thrive.