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Crisis Planning for Violence at Schools

Published on: 2/13/2013 4:18 PM
Prevention Planning
Unlike many forms of violence, school place violence is preventable. Education and training of all school personnel and students is the first step.
A safe school plan is a framework for action that can be used as a guide for current and future planning. It addresses both the behavioral and property protection aspects of violence prevention. The goal of safe school planning is to create and maintain a positive and welcoming school climate, free of drugs, violence, intimidation, and fear—an environment in which teachers can teach and students can learn. Establishing a safe school plan is a long-term, systematic, and comprehensive process. As with most successful violence prevention interventions, the best safe school plan involves the entire community.
Components of a Safe School Plan
  1. Convene a Safe School Planning Team The planning team is the driving force behind the planning process and should consist of a variety of representatives from all aspects of the community including students (if age appropriate), parents, teachers, administrators, Board of Education members, government representatives, business representatives, religious leaders, law enforcement officials, etc.
  2. Conduct a School Site Assessment An annual school site assessment should be conducted and used as an evaluation and planning tool to determine the extent of any school safety problems and/or school climate issues.
  3. Develop Strategies and Implement Violence Prevention Programs to Address School Safety Concerns In an effort to meet the needs identified in the annual school site assessment, some strategies to consider are:
    • Establish a clear Code of Behavior that includes the rights and responsibilities of both adults and students within the school community.
    • Include all youth in positive, rewarding activities and relationships at school.
    • Review federal, state, and local statutes pertaining to student management and school order with the school district lawyer as well as review relevant school and district policies.
    • Control campus access and establish uniform visitor screening procedures.
    • Keep an accurate and detailed record of all school crime incidents.
    • Promote an ongoing relationship with local law enforcement authorities, local businesses, and other community organizations.
    • Provide a school or district hotline that can be accessed anonymously to report a threat or pending violent incident.
    • Establish guidelines and procedures for identifying students at risk of violence toward themselves or others. See The U.S. Department of Education’s Early Warning Timely Response, A Guide to Safe Schools.
  4. Identify effective violence prevention programs that meet the needs of the school community, including both in-school programs and community programs appropriate for referring students and families.
  5. Establish a Social Support Team The purpose of this team is to help improve the social climate of the school. Members, including school administrators and counselors, mental health workers, and law enforcement gather and review information necessary to identify which students are at risk and the most appropriate support for that student.  Though students, parents and teachers should not act as members of this team for reasons of confidentiality, they may make referrals to the team regarding specific students and situations.
  6. Develop a Crisis Plan In the event of a school emergency or related tragedy, a crisis response plan outlines roles and responsibilities for administrators, teachers, students, parents, mental health workers, clergy, local emergency response teams, etc. during various crises.   This crisis plan should include both emergency management and crisis response procedures.  It is imperative that school communities practice their plans.