After the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, school security has once again become a main issue in education.
On Monday, school security expert Ken Trump, president and CEO of National School Safety and Security Services, gave a presentation for the Solon City School District putting the topic of school safety into context. While he is conducting an in-depth analysis of the security in Solon schools, his message to parents is applicable to everyone.
(In fact, safety and security is something North Canton City School officials are keeping a close eye on right now. They hosted a town hall meeting with the North Canton police and fire departments back in January.)
A father of two himself, Trump said the Sandy Hook tragedy was a punch to the gut for everyone.
"It left a psychological scar on all of us," he said.
Trump thinks our society is seeing a decrease in prevention, intervention, security, preparedness and training while there is an increase in serious incidents, lawsuits and parent/media concerns.
"If we don't focus on these things on a regular basis, we're going to see that problem rise," Trump said.
School safety is everyone's job
While the best line of defense is a well-trained, highly alert staff and student body, Trump said that keeping schools safe is everyone's role. From administration and teachers to parents and students, everyone needs to be aware of what's going on.
Many of these problems could be solved from the start with more supervision.
"Children want and need order, structure and discipline," Trump said. He believes discipline must be firm, fair and consistent (and applied with good common sense).
He said that more and more problems are starting on social media than ever before, bringing problems from outside the school walls into the building.
Relationships are another factor that can help problems be solved before they become bigger. Knowing students and having positive, professional relationships with students/school officials can be very effective, Trump said. Also having working relationships with public safety officials and other school community partners is beneficial for parents and educators.
A key point for school officials is using a crisis plan and not just "having one." Trump said schools should be consistently going through hypothetical scenarios and how they work to learn where mistakes can be made and corrected.
"Preparing for emergencies is to plan, prepare and practice/focus on the fundamentals. Details in planning will make or break you," he said.
Trump gave some insight to parents on how they can help with school safety.
He believes parents should:
- Talk with their kids
- Share your concerns
- Respect security and crisis procedures
- Work with school and safety officials
He said students also play an important role in situations. He said they need to recognize and prevent things that often trigger violence like:"He said, She said" rumors and not worrying about "snitching." By sharing information they could save someone's life.