End of School Year Vigilance

With everything else on educators’ plates right now, we need to remind ourselves to practice end of school year vigilance. The spring months typically have the highest number of school violence incidents, and we have seen an increase in school threats and attacks over the past few weeks. While many are transient with no substantial plan, we must evaluate each one to ensure safety.

What to watch for

If you’re not sure what you should be looking for, you can refresh your memory with this list of warning signs.

We also want to watch for students who may dread the summer months and loss of structure and support that school provides. Unfortunately, the spring and summer months are also host to a high number of suicides. If you’d like to send some information out to parents along with other end-of-year correspondence, here are two options for you: warning signs of suicide and tips for parents.

If you are yearning to learn something new this summer, Youth Risk Prevention Specialists offers a free online school safety course that takes about 20 minutes to complete. A longer, more in-depth course is also available for individuals, and to train your entire staff. It takes about 2 hours to complete.

I want to thank you for all you do to help keep kids safe throughout the school year. I wish you an amazing, relaxing summer.

Tools to Help Students Tell

Tools to help students tell

My last post was about teaching students to break the code of silence around concerning behavior and threats of violence. Today’s post provides some concrete tools to help students tell an adult when they have a concern about someone’s words or behavior.

Tools to help students tell

The Brady Campaign has a long history of unique efforts to end gun violence. This is no exception. Their SPEAK UP campaign is the first national anonymous reporting line for youth. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with trained counselors who take detailed reports and follow up with calls/faxes to designated local authorities. The site is full of information designed to captivate youth. Fortunately for us, it also provides a treasure trove of downloadable materials for educators.

The PBS program The Path to Violence is an enlightening look at what we can do each day to build a healthy and trusting school climate that encourages students to come forward with concerns. It is worth every second of the 54 minutes it will take for you to watch it.

Implementing these simple ideas will increase the likelihood that your students will talk to an adult when something concerns them. This will give you a window of time to intervene and change the outcome, keeping everyone much safer.

Do you have a school safety challenge that needs a solution? Schools around the nation are getting the help they need with a 1-to-1 consulting session. Click here for details.

One of the world’s best known business development experts recently said some amazing things about Youth Risk Prevention Specialists. You can read them here.

Teaching students to break the code of silence

Teaching students to break the code of silence

How do we going about teaching students to break the code of silence? Can we increase the likelihood that our students will speak up when they have concerns about someone’s behavior or have seen/heard something threatening?

There’s good news about teaching students to break the code of silence

It starts with building a climate of trust between the students and the adults working in the school. When kids feel supported and heard, they are more likely to report concerns to an adult who can then act on them.

Consider this: sometimes, we inadvertently train students that it is not safe or effective to tell an adult when something is wrong or when they are concerned about someone’s behavior. With good intentions and the desire to help our students become self-sufficient and capable of navigating relationships, we instruct them to work it out on their own. Perhaps, we remind them to practice the skills they’ve learned through a prevention curriculum like Steps to Respect or Second Step. Or, we believe their conflict is minor and that they will be best served by learning to ignore it.

Unfortunately, when we don’t listen and act on concerns, students learn not to tell us, and more importantly, not to trust us. When we later struggle to motivate students to break the code of silence in middle or high school, we may find it difficult to undo the learning that took place years earlier when referring to their concerns as tattling or pushing kids to work things out on their own.

The most effective way to combat this is to train your staff to listen and follow through on all student concerns, starting with pre-K and continuing through high school. This doesn’t always necessitate action; sometimes just listening and brainstorming solutions with a child are all that’s needed.

A 2008 bystander study commissioned by the U. S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education (Pollack, W. S., Modzeleski, W. & Rooney, G.), revealed additional reasons students did not report concerns. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

This post first appeared here, on LinkedIn. You can connect with me on LinkedIn by clicking here.