Bob Dylan Was Right

The times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan was right

The past several years have brought tremendous change, and we are all affected by it. Weather patterns have shifted and extremes are becoming the norm. The political climate continues to be contentious. Our news provides a daily dose of war and atrocity. People remark that there is an increased air of hostility and entitlement in our society. AI has become a gift and a challenge. Student mental health needs have skyrocketed.

And, school violence continues to plague us.

A few years ago, I decided to work in the schools again. While I have worked very hard to acquire and share my expertise in school safety, I wanted to be back in the daily flow of school staff and student life. Then, the pandemic forced yet another change. During the time I was working in the schools, and nominally at my consulting business, many more individuals had entered the field of school safety, working hard to lessen bullying and violence in our schools.

Why, then, do our schools continue to have significant safety problems?

A few things got me thinking about this….school shootings continue, and some have claimed high numbers of victims. Sometimes, we don’t even hear about a shooting that claims fewer victims, and when we do, we may find ourselves trying to suppress our anger and frustration when the news details the tragedy. We’re seeing Department of Justice reports finding that our schools are not as prepared as we had thought.

And this, I believe, is the scariest thing of all.

We’ve worked hard to put safety measures in place. We rehearse and review our safety plans. But, do we do that as often as we should? Are we double-checking our own plans when a new tragedy occurs, to make sure we really are doing all we can? Are we continuing our training, and that of our staff and substitutes? Have we grown weary of hearing about school safety? Have we become at all complacent over the years?

In all honesty, I think I have.

And, I’m betting that I’m not alone. A few school staff members have confided to me that they almost feel like they’re waving a white flag and giving up. There are other problems to deal with on a daily basis. Social media has such an outsized impact on students’ daily lives that we struggle to combat it.

More creative and intrusive ways of taunting and bullying continue to creep up, and we have to keep up.

Which is why I am sharing information with you again. Full retirement wasn’t that fun anyway, and there’s work to be done. I know that your inbox is overflowing and I don’t want to add to that. You are overworked and there aren’t enough hours in the day. But, I continue to gain subscribers on my website who want information, and I’m going to provide it.

You have my word, no more than 1-2 updates per month. If you want to stay on my mailing list, you don’t need to do a thing. If this information is no longer applicable to you, or you just don’t want to hear about school safety anymore, I understand. You can click on the “unsubscribe” link and there will be no hard feelings.

We’re fighting a tough battle, doing our best to keep our staff and students safe at all times. We are in this together, and I will share what I know and continue to learn, to try to make that burden just a little lighter for you.


STOP School Violence Grant Available Now

STOP School Violence Grants

It’s a new year, and it might just be time for some new school safety strategies. I trust that you had a restful holiday break and are ready to hit the ground running for the second half of the school year.

As you may have heard, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice has opened the STOP School Violence Grant Program to new applications. The STOP School Violence Grant Program is designed to fund improvements to school safety and security. Its objective is to increase safety by implementing training and school threat assessments and/or intervention teams to identify school violence risks among students; technological solutions such as anonymous reporting technology that can be implemented as a mobile phone-based app, a hotline, or a website in the applicant’s geographic area to enable students, teachers, faculty, and community members to anonymously identify threats of school violence; or other school safety strategies that assist in preventing violence. The grant application deadline is March 3, 2020.

If you’re interested in funding threat assessment team training and development or all-staff training in school safety, and would like help with your grant language or a price quote for training with Youth Risk Prevention Specialists, please feel free to contact me by phone or email. I’m happy to help!

I wish you the best of luck!

Your Back-to-School Resource Guide

It’s the beginning of a new school year and you have a lot to do!

I’m a big fan of having research-based strategies and practices at hand, ready to implement when the time is right. I’m also a proponent of low cost training and resources to help school staff members do their jobs more efficiently. The resources below provide both!

Bookmark this resource guide for later use. It’s full of prevention and safety resources for your student services staff and building administrators.

Have a great beginning to the school year!

Keeping Schools Safe – a Podcast

Keeping Schools Safe Podcast

I recently had the pleasure of working  with Dr. Mike Robinson of Forest of the Rain Productions, an educational affairs agency. Forest of the Rain Productions provides a wealth of education resources that I think you’ll find useful.

Dr. Robinson also produces a series of podcasts based on just 3 questions. This format keeps the podcasts brief enough for easy listening, yet gets to the heart of important educational issues.

You can listen to the most recent 3 Questions podcast, Keeping Schools Safe with Youth Risk Prevention Specialists, right here.

If you’d like to know more about anything you hear, feel free to contact me. I’m always happy to answer your questions.

Safety Resources for Elementary Students

Elementary students

In the past, there haven’t been a lot of resources available for teaching elementary students about safety and emergency preparedness. Fortunately, that has changed.

Safety Resources for Elementary Students

In 2013, the American Red Cross began a nationwide project that teaches students in grades 3-5 about planning ahead for an emergency. It’s called the Pillowcase Project, and you can visit the Red Cross website for more information.  

While there, you can also find free downloads of both Spanish and English versions of the Micky and Friends Preparedness Activity Books and the Disney Action Kit, a guide that tells children exactly what to put in their pillowcase or emergency kit.

For a news story out of Green Bay, Wisconsin that shows the Pillowcase Project in action, visit WBAY News.

If you’re looking for emergency preparedness resources for other age groups, check out FEMA’s Be a Hero program for games and other educator tools geared toward students in grades 1-12.  

All of these tools and websites are designed to help children feel prepared and empowered, which will decrease the level fear experienced in an emergency. If you’d like to learn more, simply contact me here.

More Free School Safety Resources


School Safety Resources

Last week, I provided several free school safety resources that I have found to be particularly helpful when working with schools to improve their level of safety. Today, I want to continue that discussion by directing you to a few more excellent tools .

More Free School Safety Resources

To help ease confusion about recommended active shooter response drills and protocols, some guidance has been provided by the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Resource Officers. This collaborative effort has resulted in the recently-released guide, Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Armed Assailant Drills. You can download a copy here.

If you are working with youth on crisis preparedness skills, FEMA has some great tools for you. Whether you are just starting a program, are in need of some fresh ideas, or are seeking funding, this site offers beneficial tips.

Finally, Intelligent Travel posted this useful infographic on how to spot a hidden handgun.  It’s designed for travelers but the tips are useful in other settings as well.

School safety is an ongoing effort that needs to come from within our own schools. Our safety efforts must to be individualized, but utilizing some of the excellent tools that are available can facilitate this work and get us started on the right track.

Free School Safety Resources

Free School Safety Resources

Are you looking for inexpensive ways to improve your school’s safety? Today, I want to share some free school safety resources with you that I have found to be extremely helpful when working with schools to improve safety.

Free School Safety Resources

First is the Just in Time online training library created by the Disaster Resistant Communities Group.  This is one of the most extensive online training resources I have seen, with information ranging from how to use a fire extinguisher to school tornado response protocol to cyber security issues in the workplace.

Next up is a directory of online webinars from REMS  (Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools).  Here, you’ll find resources on school climate, psychological first aid, and active shooter response considerations.  You can also download FEMA’s Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans from this site.

Finally, the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Guide for Preventing and Responding to School Violence can be accessed here.  This guide addresses prevention, preparing for crisis, threat assessment, roles of staff during and after a crisis, dealing with the media and legal issues.

For additional free tools to help you create a safer school, please visit my post, More Free School Safety Resources.

Safety Resource for Elementary Students

Safety for Elementary Students

It can be difficult to find the right safety preparedness resources for younger children.  We want to help them prepare in a way that sticks with them, but we don’t want to frighten them.

The Red Cross has created a fun new app for kids ages 7-11 to learn about safety and practice responding to emergencies.  It’s called Monster Guard and you can download it for free.

If you decide to try it with students, I’d love to hear how it goes.  You can email me here with a few quick comments.

FEMA Adds a 5th Phase of Emergency Preparedness

For those of you who have designed your emergency response plan around the4 Phases of Emergency Preparedness, you should know that there has been a change to that structure. FEMA has added a fifth phase: Protection. The 5 phases now look like this…

Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery

Prevention – the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident. Prevention is the action schools take to prevent a threatened or actual incident from occurring.

Protection – the capabilities to secure schools against acts of violence and manmade or natural disasters. Protection focuses on ongoing actions that protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, networks, and property from a threat or hazard.

Mitigation – the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency. In this document, “mitigation” also means reducing the likelihood that threats and hazards will happen.

Response – the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery.

Recovery – the capabilities necessary to assist schools affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment.

If you don’t already have a copy of FEMA’s Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans, simply click here for a free download. In addition, I am a trained EOP/Emergency Operations Plan facilitator and would be happy to help if you need to update your plan. Simply contact me here.