Engaging Students in School Safety

Posted by on January 13, 2010

Students in Miami-Dade County Schools are organizing school safety summits in the aftermath of a fatal stabbing at Coral Gables Senior High this past September.  (Details at Miami Herald’s January 12th story, Miami-Dade students organize to end violence in schools)
School Safety Fire Drill

Art Work to Block Exits During Fire Drills

While I was working with an Indiana school district on an emergency planning assessment today, an elementary school principal talked about the importance of involving students in her school’s emergency planning.  She shared how she talked with students on morning announcements about the details of why fire, lockdown, and other drills are conducted at their school. 

This principal also talked about engaging students in the process.  Have students make large picture boards with red colors, flames, and the word “Fire”  to be used for unannounced blocking of exits during fire drills.  The goal: Get both students and staff to think on their feet during fire drills.

Focus groups and anonymous student surveys can help get school safety information directly from students.  Are there places in their school, such as restrooms, where students avoid out of fear?  If appointed principal, what are the top three things the students would do to improve safety in their school?

Adults too often develop school safety and crisis plans without any input from students.  Student school safety participation can be more formal with organized programs such as Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE).  It can also be less structured, but it must be ingrained in a school’s culture.

Student involvement in school safety planning does not need to be burdensome, but it does need to be genuine. 

How does your school engage students in school safety and crisis planning?

Ken Trump

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