Creating a Safe School Environment
Action Steps for Students
Students have an important role to play in ensuring that their schools are safe and orderly. They can take steps to help make their schools places where learning can take place without disruption and without the fear of being victimized or bullied. They can:
- Participate in, or help develop, student government organizations and guidelines that promote a drug- and gun-free, safe, and orderly environment for learning.
- Volunteer to serve on decisionmaking or advisory committees such as the group developing the overall Safe School Plan.
- Become advocates for programs such as peer mediation, conflict resolution, peer assistance leadership, teen courts, or anger management.
- Reduce conflict situations rather than making them worse. Practice good citizenship, and treat peers and teachers with respect.
- Report weapon possession, drug use or sale, bullying threats or intimidation, victimization, gang activity, or vandalism to school authorities and parents.
- Learn the consequences of gang involvement and alcohol, drug, and gun use and the methods for resisting alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Use this understanding to help other students avoid alcohol or drug use or seek help if they are already involved in alcohol or drugs.
- Follow the school code of conduct, understand that rules are made for everyone, and recognize the consequences of violating the rules.
- Whenever possible, travel with others to and from school and to special school events. Students must always be aware of their surroundings.
- Work with teachers, principals, and other students in developing a community service program, where students give back to the community in a positive manner.
- Encourage their parents to come to the school and be involved in activities that support the school.
- Serve as a big brother/big sister, tutor, or mentor for a younger student.
Action Steps for Parents
Parents play a key role in ensuring that their children are safe and drug-free. Without the active support and participation of parents, schools and communities cannot be safe. Parents have to be part of a school's effort to create an orderly, respectful environment. Some of the actions parents can take to assist schools are:
- Set standards of behavior, limits, and clear expectations for children both in and out of school and develop mutually agreed-upon rules about homework, extracurricular participation, grades, curfews, chaperoned parties, and places that are off limits.
- Teach standards of right and wrong and demonstrate these standards through example.
- Discuss with their children the school's discipline policies, reinforcing the belief that school rules support the rights of all students to attend schools with disciplined environments safe from influences of violence and alcohol or substance abuse.
- Encourage their children to talk about school, their social activities, their interests and problems, and even their walk to and from school.
- Be involved in their children's school life by reviewing homework, meeting their teachers, and attending school functions such as parent-teacher conferences, PTA meetings, class programs, open houses, plays, concerts, and sporting events.
- Build a network of other adults with whom they can talk about school safety issues and alcohol and drug use.
- Join a community association to ensure that issues related to alcohol, drugs, and violence are made part of the organization's agenda and that community groups work together to create a safe school corridor by supervising walking routes to and from school.
- Talk to their children about the consequences of drug and weapon use, gang participation, and violence and ensure that firearms that parents keep in the home or automobile are unloaded and inaccessible to children. Other dangerous weapons should also be kept out of the reach of children.
- Work with the school to develop a comprehensive Safe School Plan that incorporates a clearly articulated statement to students, parents, and the community regarding what will and will not be tolerated and that also provides a strong emphasis on programs to prevent violence and the use of alcohol and drugs.
- Monitor the programs their children watch, the video games they play, and the music they listen to regularly. Take time to explain to their children the actual nature and consequences of what is being said and done.
- Encourage their children to participate in school-sponsored, after-class activities to help limit the amount of time their children spend watching television.
(Information provided by the U.S. Department of Education .)