Twenty Four School Safety Items Administrators are Hiding from Parents

Posted by on March 1, 2010

In my school security and emergency planning workshops, I frequently ask school administrators, School Resource Officers (SROs), and others to name one positive thing they are doing in their schools which contributes to school safety. This item can fall under prevention, security, and/or preparedness. 

Those who volunteer have about 10 seconds each to name their practice. Once someone takes the lead in the discussion, others typically follow very quickly. 

The end result in just one minute or so is a list of about two dozen proactive, positive practices.  They typically include items such as having School Resource Officers (SROs), cameras in their buildings, crisis plans and crisis teams, anti-bullying programs, counseling and psychological support services, and the list goes on.

So what’s the problem with that, you ask?

There is no problem with the practices they mention.  The problem is they do not communicate to parents prior to a crisis that these items are in place. 

Many administrators have simply never given thought to getting “out front”  on school safety by sharing with their parents that they have these different programs and strategies in their schools. 

I suggest school leaders go back to their districts and make the same list for their individual schools and for their school districts as a whole.  This process could be completed in about 10 minutes and would give school leaders a concrete list of school safety practices to reference proactively in their parent communications.  It could also serve as a quick reference if a crisis occurs and school leaders need to point to school safety initiatives they had in place prior to a critical incident.

School newsletters, district and building level web sites, principal’s or superintendent’s blog, parent association meetings, and other communications tools are often overlooked as places school administrators can get their word out about the positive things they have in place to protect students and staff.  School leaders can reduce parents’ “fear of the unknown” by talking about the good things they are doing for school safety prior to a crisis situation.

Are your school leaders unintentionally hiding the several dozen good things they have in place to protect students and staff?

Ken Trump 

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4 thoughts on “Twenty Four School Safety Items Administrators are Hiding from Parents

  1. Ken, as we know, there are so many positive steps schools have taken to protect students and staff and schools should be sharing with parents. One comment you and I often hear in our travels from parents is I wish I knew what my kids school is doing. While half of that burden falls to parents it also says schools should be talking to parents about what they are doing. Often we find schools simply take for granted what they are doing and don’t believe it will be of interest to parents. It is of interest to parents.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      Yes, Chuck, we know that it is the “fear of the unknown” which causes many parents more stress than if they simply heard the facts from school leaders. Ken

  2. Becky Holliday says:

    Ken, You have a point parents do need to know what is going on at their childs school in the event of an emergency. Our school district put together an information pamphlet which included plans for potential threats (i.e.reverse evacuation,lockdowns and shelter-in-place).Each threat is paired with an action along with its description. This way the parents know what actions are being taken during a particular incident. We also gave explicit direction on how to gain information about an incident at their childs school without tying up the phone lines, and where to go for a parent reunification site. Parents were very receptive to this idea. I’m willing to share this information with ohters who may be interested. Keep up the good work and I enjoyed your seminar in Greenville, SC.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      Thanks so much for sharing, Becky. Great info! As we discussed in the Greenville conference, the parent reunification process will always be challenging. It is so wise to talk with parents and give them an idea of what to expect ahead of time! Keep in touch. I have really enjoyed my tour around South Carolina for all of our workshops! Ken

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