Resources for Safe Schools Week

October 25, 2018

Students might stress about a big math exam, or wonder if they will bump into their “crush” in the hall, or worry about hitting the right note in Chorus class. That we can handle. But what’s the one thing kids should never have to worry about at school? Their safety. Some kids walk to school. Others take the bus or another form of public transportation. Teenagers who are old enough to drive may carpool. But however they get there, students deserve not just to feel safe, but to actually be safe, when they walk into their school each and every day. As adults, it’s our responsibility to make sure of it. October 21–28 is Safe Schools Week this year. According to the National Schools Safety Center, “School safety includes keeping campuses free of crime and violence, improving discipline, and increasing student attendance. Schools 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.”

Keeping Youth Drug Free, a publication of the Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, features what to know and what to do to help parents understand and proactively serve the best interests of their children. According to the publication, studies have found associations between early initiation of alcohol or illicit drug use and an increased likelihood of developing substance use disorders. The Office of the Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and reduce underage drinking warns that the majority of adolescents who start drinking do so when they are in the 7th or 8th grade and are about 13–14 years old. This book also emphasizes the fact that parents have a significant influence on young people’s decision about alcohol. That’s why it’s crucial that parents and caregivers talk to their children about drugs and alcohol before it’s too late.  Caregivers will learn how to establish and maintain good communication and even learn some of the science behind their child’s judgment. According to the book, the last region of the brain to develop is the pre-frontal cortex. That’s the cortex that governs judgment. Without the ability to predict outcomes and plan accordingly, teens can make choices such as using drugs and alcohol that could hurt them in the long run. Finally, this book takes readers through understanding the different types of drugs and alcohol and their various effects.

To ensure the safety of our nation’s students, it’s crucial that educators and administrators alike understand indicators of school crime and safety. Indicators of School Crime and Safety is a report that draws information from a variety of data sources, including national surveys of students, teachers, and principals. Sources include results from a study of violent deaths in schools. The report is produced jointly by National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Institute of Education Sciences (IES), in the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Many public and private school buildings are old, in poor condition, and may contain environmental conditions that pose increased risks to the health of children and staff. Everyday things like chemicals used in science class, art supplies, and even drinking fountains can all pose threats to children’s safety. Sensible Steps to Healthier School Environments from the Environmental Protection Agency is a publication meant to address some of the most common areas of environmental health concerns found in schools, including chemical management, carbon monoxide, drinking water, lead, mold and much more. Steps to reduce hazards related to these areas are included in the booklet. A quick and easy assessment is included at the end of the booklet for schools to reduce and prevent exposures to common environmental health hazards. The EPA has also brought us a Sensible Guide for Healthier School Renovations which addresses the unique challenges and opportunities of school renovation that can help the school save money and support student performance.

Our little ones are the future! When they’re safe at school, performance improves, and the future is brighter for everyone. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, school administrator, or a mentor for a child you know, you can help make positive changes for children. And there’s no better time to start than Safe Schools Week.

The GPO Online Bookstore – Easy Access to Federal Publications


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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

School safety by the numbers

March 9, 2012

Guest blogger GPO Public Relations Specialist Emma Wojtowicz discusses a publication about safety in schools.

School safety is a concern. The recent school shooting at the public high school in Chardon, Ohio, reminds us that any school is susceptible to violence and tragedy. Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2010, a publication by the Department of Education and Department of Justice, thoroughly examines the various indicators that threaten the safety of our nation’s schools.

The information and data in this report was collected through surveys conducted from 2007-2009. While this report is regularly published to help policymakers and schools develop ways to keeps schools safe and prevent crime and violence, it makes for an interesting read given recent events.

The report identifies 21 indicators that threaten the safety of schools. The indicators encompass a variety of problems like victimization, bullying, injury, fights, use of drugs and alcohol and weapons possession. Charts and graphs illustrate the data collected about each of the problems with breakdowns by age, ethnicity, gender, public versus private school, and urban versus rural school location.

Is your child afraid at school? For example, this chart shows the number of students from 12-18 who feel threatened at school or away from school. Here, Black students feel the most afraid at school, with Hispanics second, but Hispanic students feel more threatened outside of school than any other group. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)

There are also comparisons for some indicators between being at school and outside of school.

Who’s carrying? For example, the above graph from the book shows the percentage of high school students who carried a weapon on and off school property at least once in the last 30 days. The highest weapon-carrying groups were American Indians, Pacific Islanders and White students, with Asian and Black students as the lowest groups. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)

The content is organized well with a brief explanation about each indicators followed by the data depicted through charts and graphs making for easy navigation if there is a specific topic you are interested in.

Some interesting findings during the 2007-2008 school year:

  • Victims of bullying are about same for males and females: 30% of male students and 33% of female students reported being bullied
  • 5% of students reported being afraid of attack or harm at school
  • 1% of public schools have daily metal detector checks and 5% of public school have random metal detector checks
  • 6% of students reported carrying a weapon to school and 17% of students reported carrying a weapon anywhere in a 30-day period
  • 21 school-associated homicides occurred
  • 43% of public schools reported they have an electronic notification system for a school-wide emergency in place

It is difficult to analyze these statistics and determine whether or not schools are safe. From scanning the various line graphs, it is easy to notice there has been a decline over the years from the mid-1990s to 2009 regarding most of the indicators. Hopefully, this data is used to improve and strengthen the safety of schools. As our country was reminded on February 27 in Chardon, Ohio, any school is at risk and we must be steadfast in the effort to reduce the risks that leads to tragedy.

What measures are in place to keep your child safe at school? This chart from the book shows what school security measures have been put in place overall since 1999, the year of the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. While all measures increased since 1999, many have dropped from a former high rate in 2003-5, such as use of security guards, metal detectors, locker checks or visible student ID badges. The only measures that have consistently grown over the years are: use of security cameras, instituting a code of student conduct, locked entrance and exit doors during the day, and a requirement that visitors to the school sign in. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2010” BOOK?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

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