Updated: Mar 17, 2022
Here at the NASCPC, we focus on helping schools develop safety ecosystems that encompass a holistic approach to safety.
A school safety ecosystem involves the integration of multiple elements working in tandem to:
Enhance situational awareness
Increase opportunities to identify and evaluate potential threats
Direct the appropriate combination of resources to mitigate, isolate, or eliminate a potential or actual threat
Implement emergency response protocols in a timely, efficient, and effective manner
“Meaningful school safety planning involves multiple components, operating in tandem, to be leveraged as both proactive and reactive keys for addressing complex safety issues.” - Chief Frank Kitzerow
We have had much success with our models and methodology, but there is another element that is necessary in achieving a robust and long-lived safety ecosystem program. How do the students feel about their safety at school?
Safety as a School Culture
A school safety plan is only as successful as the dedication it takes to maintain it. A district can have a plan, implement the plan, and still fail if those affected don't feel connected to the plan. Breaking through emotional trauma, mental health weaknesses, and developing trust with the student-body are all a part of a thorough safety ecosystem. We do this by establishing a vision and build on current plans by leveraging advisory groups at all levels. Advisory groups can:
Provide broader perspectives,
Identify loopholes and soft spots,
Help create a stronger plan,
Increase the opportunities for success, buy-in, and ownership,
Enhance feelings of safety (Being safe and feeling safe).
When students get the help and support they need, they begin to trust those that led them down that path. Once trust is established, students are able to refocus their attention on their education in ways that otherwise may not have happened.
Imagine reading a great book. You are nestled in your warm soft bed. You have a nice glass of water, good lighting, peace, and quiet. In these circumstances, you can enjoy your book and absorb the words. Now imagine reading that same book in another situation, where someone is staring at you, giving you dirty looks, or even verbally intimidating you. Imagine feeling scared or anxious and trying to focus on your book. In which scenario would you enjoy your book? In which scenario would you even remember what you read? This is what happens with distracted learning. When students are distracted with feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, etc., they aren't capable of embracing the learning experience in a meaningful way. Their minds are distracted because their emotions are distracted. As educators, if we can give students an environment of support and feelings of safety, we are opening their minds to other opportunities to be able to focus on growth.
We are the gatekeepers for the next generation of leaders. Students today face challenges in school that we, as adults, did not. Active shooter drills are something that every child experiences now. Active shooter drills are necessary, because the world we live in today has made them necessary. We must consider how these shifts in cultural safety have changed. Now add in the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns/restrictions, facial coverings masking visual emotions, political uprisings/riots, financial instability,...the list goes on. These shifts affect communities. Schools are a microcosm of those communities. The children need our support. The children deserve to go to schools and feel the safe haven of those environments. Kids deserve to just be kids again without the weight of our world upon them at such tender young ages.
Here at the NASCPC we can help you build a path to success. We understand the roadmap because we have traveled the roads. If you are interested in evolving your school safety ecosystem, please contact us today.