Schools need research-based safety solutions.
Following the school shootings in Parkland, Fl (2018), President Donald Trump established The Federal Commission on School Safety. The goal of this commission was to extensively research school violence and produce a report to include all recommendations to prevent future school related tragedies. After numerous field visits, listening sessions and meetings with students, parents, school officials, school safety personnel, law enforcement officers, and mental health professionals, recommendations by The Federal Commission on School Safety were developed for leaders at local, state and federal levels (December 2018).
The Federal Commission on School Safety research, report and recommendations were utilized in the creation of
Well-being Safety Assessments' school safety services.
The report's summary and recommendations are identified below with the coinciding safety service offered through WSA.
1. Prevention begins with character education and the creation of a positive school environment. This will help students feel connected to, rather than isolated from teachers and fellow students. It will combat cyber-bullying. Student-led efforts are critical to addressing all forms of bullying. Firm and prompt responses are important for this type of student behavior.
WSA provides School Violence Prevention Training, a safety prevention solution which includes a full-day of violence prevention information beginning with a student-led performance skit discussing the importance of reacting appropriately to unsafe/suspicious behavior at school. Next, a student survivor of school violence provides a dialogue with students as they discuss their personal journey in a violent situation. Finally, students review a 54 page handbook filled with valuable information about school violence and ways in which to prevent it.
WSA also provides wellness classes. These classes are pre-recorded and offered online through CANVAS. They focus on issues such as anger management, bullying, self-esteem, and substance misuse. Students and their families are able to take these courses at their convenience. They come with pre and post testing, worksheets, quizzes and a final examination. This option is great for behavioral students who find themselves in detention or in-school suspension situations as well as yearly training for all students to keep up to date on what to do when faced with difficult situations.
2. State and local school districts and state and local behavioral health agencies should work together to promote screening and early intervention of for mental/substance use disorders. Improve access to school based mental health and counseling for young people is a vital aspect of school violence prevention. Integrating mental health, substance misuse and other supportive services into schools can help early identification needs and access to treatment. Empowerment results from youth having leadership opportunities and a voice within the classroom.
WSA provides a School Wellness Assessment, a safety prevention solution which gathers student information by asking simple questions addressing bullying, anger, depression, suicide, child abuse and substance misuse. It provides a private means for students to disclose at-risk information about themselves and their peers. It gives students the ability to voice their concerns about themselves, their peers, teachers, parents and their educational environment. Students answering affirmatively to specific questions are identified and provided with treatment resources for anger management, suicide prevention, substance abuse, and mental health issues. WSA works directly with school counselors in assisting with local and state resources for these students and their families. At no point is a student diagnosed. This is not the direction of this assessment. It is only a screening to assist with the identification of students who assess themselves as high-risk. A complete and thorough report is given to the School Administrator on every student approved by their guardian to take the screening.
3. Prior to most school attacks other students had concerns about the attacker yet most did not report the information. Creating a means to easily report is key to preventing violence within schools.
WSA provides an Anonymous Reporting System allowing students, teachers, parents and the community to call, text, message or email when they see or hear anything unsafe or suspicious while at school. Reports are also taken on student wellness issues. If a child or a child's friend reports he is considering harming himself, WSA will take a report and forward it to school officials immediately as well as contacting emergency services. Reports are also taken on child abuse, mental health issues, bullying and much more.
4. State and local educational agencies should collaborate with parents to strengthen internet safety measures to curb access to inappropriate content.
WSA provides an "All About School Safety" web page that any school can link to (free of charge) from their school's website. It is student and family friendly and offers great information on mental wellness, school safety clubs, cyber-bullying, and much much more. Parents can also find and download treatment resources for students struggling with substance misuse, anger management and mental illness. Teachers can download free anti-bullying and "Our Generation" posters for their classrooms and learn how to safe guard their classroom in case of an intruder.
5. All school personnel play a role in school safety and should take part in school safety training.
WSA offers a free School Safety Checklist for schools to help them decipher how to coordinate services with outside agencies including law enforcement and EMS. Go to the WSA homepage and download a free copy of this checklist.
6. Every school in America is different and appropriate protective measures will vary based on characteristics of the site, location, resources and personnel available. A risk assessment can identify vulnerabilities and enable the development of a strategy to address security gaps. Effective security plans use a layered approach across all 3 areas of a school: entry points, the building envelope and the classroom.
WSA provides a School Safety Environmental Assessment (SSEA) which includes an Assessor going to each school campus (every school within the district) to review the 3 designated areas identified within the Federal Commission on School Safety report. The Assessor will physically review all school entrances and exits, walls, roofs, windows, doors as well as each individual classroom. Screenings are provided to every staff member and ten percent of the student body within every building providing valuable input about the school environment. A detailed and thorough report is provided to the School Superintendent with necessary recommendations based on the FCSS report.
7. Active Shooter Preparedness Training should be deemed a priority.
WSA provides a web page offering Active Shooter Preparedness Training information free of charge for every school. The information includes downloadable booklets and training guides, training videos and much more. Schools can also sign up for the monthly WSA newsletter providing valuable new school safety information as it is released.