SecurAlert   september 2013 - School Safety and Security
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SecurAlert september 2013 - School Safety and Security

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This month, SecurAmerica will address school safety and security with a focus on school violence given some of the recent incidents that have occurred. Our school violence supplement poses some......

This month, SecurAmerica will address school safety and security with a focus on school violence given some of the recent incidents that have occurred. Our school violence supplement poses some questions parents should ask school administrators about their child’s school security and safety plans to prevent, prepare for and mitigate school violence.

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  • 1. When parents talk about school safety these days, they’re usually referring to the surge in violence at schools. But research shows that school-age children are actually nine times more likely to sustain an unintentional injury -- whether on the playground or in school --than to be the victim of violence while at school. Walking to School n Walk the route with your child beforehand. Always instruct your child to use the sidewalk. Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around. Show them safe places to go along the route if they need help. Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards. We recognize that the potential for school violence is an overriding concern for parents. Given some recent events, we have included in this issue a detailed checklist for you to use in evaluating the safety of your child’s school. Look for that at the end of the issue!
  • 2. Bus Safety n Teach children to arrive at the bus stop early, stay out of the street, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching the street, watch for cars and avoid the driver’s blind spot. n Remind your children to stay seated in the bus at all times and keep their heads and arms inside the bus while riding. If the bus is equipped with seat belts make sure they buckle up. n When exiting the bus, children should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, exit from the front using the handrail to avoid falls. n If your child has to cross the street, have him or her wait for a signal from the bus driver before crossing and then cross the street at least 10 feet (or 10 giant steps) in front of the bus; look both ways before crossing n Tell your child NEVER to bend down in front of the bus to tie shoes or pick up objects, as the driver may not see him before starting to move. Vehicle Safety n Make sure young children are in safety seats at all times, and that the seats have been properly installed. n All children under 13 years should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. n Teach them to be aware of people behind them or vehicles that may slow down as they are walking. n Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust. n Be Sure your child walks to and from school with a sibling, friend, or neighbor – never alone. n Kids should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old. n Educate your children to cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. n Never run out into the streets or cross in between parked cars.
  • 3. n When driving kids, deliver and pick them up as close to the school as possible. Don’t leave until they are in the schoolyard or building. n Secure your home when walking a child to and from a bus stop – criminals may use this as an opportunity to burglarize your home. n If your child carries a back pack, make sure it isn’t overloaded with books and other items. Heavy back packs can cause back injuries and can be a distraction for your child. n Remind your children to never give the impression they are home alone if strangers telephone or come to the door. Never open the door for a stranger or indicate a parent is not home. n Be aware of putting your child’s name on anything that is readily visible. This might allow an abductor to get on a “first name” basis with your child and develop a sense of trust. n Meet with school officials to go over the school’s safety and security program and procedures to make sure your child remains safe and secure. n Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You may want to limit the number of teen passengers to prevent driver distraction. Do not allow your teen to drive while eating, drinking, texting or talking on a cell phone. Biking/Scootering to School n Bike with your child to school ahead of time; just like walking, identify a safe route for them; point out the route’s hazards and how to arrive at school safely. n Make sure your child does not wear any loose-fitting clothes that could get caught on a moving bike’s chain or wheels. n Children and teens should wear reflective or bright colored cloth ing or a vest and NEVER try to bike to and from school after dark. General SafetyTips n Be sure that your child knows his or her home phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult and how to call 911 for emergencies. If your child rides a bike or scooter to school, make sure they wear a helmet that meets US helmet safety standards. Research indicates that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.
  • 4. We wanted to give our SecurAlert parents the recent statistics about school violence, which we obtained from the Centers of Disease Control and Bureau of Labor Statistics All of us have been stunned over the last couple of years about some of the horrific violence that has tragically entered our schools and colleges. Just this past month, outside of Atlanta, another potential tragedy was averted due to the quick thinking of a school administrator when the gunman – armed with an AK47 – was convinced to surrender. If he went forward with his plan, the outcome could have been unimaginable. Despite these events, the chance of an active shooter or homicide in a school environment is fortunately very rare. Of all youth homicides, less than 2% occurred at school and this has been a stable statistic for the past decade (Source: Centers for Disease Control, 2012). Latest studies based on a representative sample of youth in grades 9-12 found the following: n 12% of students reported being in a physical fight on school property in the 12 months before the survey. n 5.9% of students reported that they did not go to school on one or more days in the 30 days before the survey because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school. n 5.4% of students reported carrying a weapon (gun, knife or club) on school property on one or more days in the 30 days before the survey. n 7.4% of students reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property one or more times in the 12 months before the survey. n 20% of students reported being bullied on school property and 16% reported being bullied electronically during the 12 months before the survey. In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that after a two year decline, 2012 saw an uptick in school violence, particularly relating to bullying behavior.
  • 5. IsYour Child’s School Safe? – Your Right to Know! With the Sandy Hook shootings still in our minds and several well-publicized bullying episodes (some of which have been recently captured on school bus surveillance cameras), many parents and kids may have an elevated level of concern and worry this year. Here are some important questions to ask your school so you fully understand the school’s safety and emergency response plan. We also have included some questions you can ask your kids to determine their frame of mind and their readiness to react to an emergency situation. Ask the School Here are some questions you should ask your school’s principal to determine the school’s plan on helping prevent and properly protect against, respond to, and mitigate school-related violence and crime: n Can you provide me with crime statistics over the past year? What is the school’s response plan for an active shooter and other emergencies? • In the school • On school grounds • In the surrounding neighborhood n Ask the school about their policy on bullying and the possible repercussions that can occur from bullying and its reporting n What is the school’s lockdown policy? n How are threats or actual violence communicated to school staff and students? n What type of alarm and notifi- cation systems are in place to alert students and parents? n How are students accounted for in a lockdown or evacuation situation? n What are students told what to do in a lockdown situation that is caused by an active shooter? n Does the school have a policy that requires staff to notify the admin- istration of pending divorce, restraining orders, stalking or related situations that could cause a violent attack on school grounds? n What is the school’s security plan? • Who is responsible for it? • How often is it updated? • Are police or security officers stationed at the school at certain times? • Does the school employ plain clothes security to audit the environment and the proper execution of school security procedures? We hope your children have a very productive and safe school year! For more information:
  • 6. • How is access monitored or controlled to limit the ability of an unauthorized person from coming into the school, classrooms or lunch room? • Does the school have metal detectors and bullet resistant doors? • Type of alarms in place (duress, perimeter doors, fire drill, shelter-in-place, etc.); important note: schools should have a separate alarm sound for fire and one for an active shooter/lockdown • Number of CCTV cameras; who monitors them; are they all in working order; are they properly placed? • Can classroom doors be secured from the inside? • Do you regularly conduct drills with local police, EMT and SWAT teams? • Do these officials have a floor plan of the school? • Are busses monitored for improper actions and what is the bus driver’s responsibility in the event of a fight, bullying event or other situation? n Are teachers trained in first aid and CPR? n Do school officials and safety experts along with public safety representatives meet regularly to discuss safety procedures n Do you have regular drills for the following: • Fire • Shelter-in-Place (tornadoes, etc.) • Active Shooter • Bomb Threats • Other emergencies Ask your Child n Ask your child if he or she feels safe at school. n Ask them if the school has talked to them about what to do when something bad happens. n Find out what your child knows about lockdown drills. Ask your child if they know what these drills are and ask her if they know what to do in the event of an emergency like a dangerous intruder. If your child hasn’t taken part in a drill yet, talk to them about what they might experience during a lock down drill so that they know what to expect. n Reassure your child that these drills, like fire drills, are just to practice how to stay safe in the extremely unlikely event that some one dangerous enters the school. If participating in school lockdown drills triggers any anxiety in your child about scary news events like the Sandy Hook shootings, talk to your child to find out what they are thinking, what they think they know, and what they’re afraid of or worried about. Young children often have lots of misconceptions about things they see and hear, so you may need to clear up any confusion your child may have about school shootings or lockdown drills. You are encouraged to work with other parents and your local PTA to make sure you are fully briefed on how the school is addressing the potential issue of violence. If you are not satisfied that your child’s school has a comprehensive safety plan, contact the school district or state department of education. Also, do your own research. Not all school districts or safety experts agree about the best types of safety drills to prepare kids for emergencies. Read about school security and safety ex- perts, compare different methods, and talk to your child’s school about any questions you might have.