The National School Safety Center, state governors and state school superintendents sponsor America's Safe Schools Week, October 20-26, 2013. This observance is also actively supported by local, state and national public officials and professional organizations.
Significant progress is being made to ensure that all of our nation's schools are safe, secure and productive. At the forefront of this movement are hundreds of exemplary school, district, state and national programs. To recognize these successes and encourage others, October 20-26, 2013, has been proclaimed America's Safe Schools Week. NSSC invites everyone to participate in this annual observance that was originally established by the National School Safety Center in 1984.
NSSC's goal in this campaign is to motivate key education and law enforcement policymakers, as well as students, parents and community residents, to vigorously advocate school safety. School safety includes keeping campuses free of crime and violence, improving discipline, and increasing student attendance. School that are safe and free of violence, weapons and drugs are necessary to ensure the well-being of all children and the quality of their education.
While most schools have existing safety programs, these programs often need conscientious, creative application to improve their effectiveness. Following is a list of ideas and activities that may appropriately be introduced during America's Safe Schools Week. Some of these suggestions may already be part of district or school site programs. Many of these ideas may be initiated and carried out by school-site principals or parents' groups working with local school administrators or by school district public relations directors, working cooperatively with school superintendents and other district administrators.
America's Safe Schools Week provides a unique opportunity for you and your organization to focus on educational issues that directly affect your constituency. We at the National School Safety Center ask you to join the constituents of your state and school community to help the future of this country by observing America's Safe Schools Week, October 20-26, 2013.
Perhaps the most important strategy is to place school safety on the educational agenda. This includes developing a safe schools plan - an ongoing process that encompasses the development of district wide crime prevention policies, in-service training, crisis preparation, inter-agency cooperation and student/parent participation. An appointed task force should develop and implement the plan with representatives from all elements of the school community - board members, employees, students, parents, law enforcers, government and business leaders, the media and local residents. Ideas include:
• Convince the local school board, superintendent and principals that quality education requires safe, disciplined and peaceful schools. Stress the basic concept that school safety is a community concern requiring a community response.
• Develop a district wide safe schools plan, as well as individual plans for each school in the system. Include systematic procedures for dealing with specific types of crises that will protect the safety of students and school personnel in the event of a crisis.
• Develop a school safety clearinghouse for current literature and data on school safety issues. Key topics to include are school crime and violence, drugs, discipline, attendance and dropouts, vandalism, security, weapons, youth suicide, child abuse and school law.
• Establish a systematic, district wide mandatory incident reporting system. The policy should include the development of a standard form to provide complete and consistent information on accidents, discipline problems, vandalism and security problems as well as suspected child abuse.
• Prepare a school safety public information brochure. Briefly explain the important issues and the specific roles individuals and groups can play in developing schools that are safe havens for learning.
• Develop safety policies. Keep current with trends and exemplary programs in education, public relations and school safety. Make plans and implement them with authority and conviction.
• Develop and regularly update a school safety fact sheet for your district. Provide current statistics on incidents of crime and violence, disciplinary actions and suspensions, attendance and dropouts, and vandalism and repair costs. Compare school crime and violence rates with crime rates of the local community.
• Create a school safety advisory group. This advisory group should include representatives from all constituencies, especially law enforcers, fire fighters, judges, lawyers, health and human services professionals, parents and the media. Recruit group members with special qualifications, such as policy-making authority, access to the media, ability to mobilize volunteers or expertise in raising funds.
Support America's Safe Schools Week. The third week (Sunday through Saturday) in October is designated each year as America's Safe Schools Week. This week is an appropriate time to initiate many school safety ideas.
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