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Blog: Rising Educators Speak Up about School Safety Concerns

September 10, 2018

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“Perception is extremely important. What people believe is true with regard to safety - whether it is or not - can undermine their sense of well-being and security and, in a school context, students’ ability to focus on learning.” - Kathleen Minke, National Association of School Psychologists

“Do you fear for your child’s safety at school?” It’s a question that the Phi Delta Kappa Poll, Educators Rising’s sister organization, asked parents as part of its yearly polling on the public’s attitude toward public schools. 65% of parents polled said they felt their children were safe at school. But as a part of our ongoing Educators Rising monthly discussion topics, we wanted to dig deeper and find out what you thought about your own school environment.  Your responses really help illuminate the reality of what current students future educators are feeling. Most respondents stated they really did feel safe at school but felt their schools could be better prepared for emergencies. “I think that the systems we have right now are pretty good, but I would like a drill to practice, just in case there was a school shooting,” said Hannah Warthman from Versailles, Kentucky. Another student, who preferred to remain anonymous, stated, “our school is doing the protocols correctly, but I honestly don’t know what would happen in the event of an actual emergency situation.”

Many of you mentioned that a sense of community made you feel safer in your school environment. "I [feel safe at school] but I also know that anything can happen to anyone so I always have my guard up. But I think our school community is very close," said one student. This has been borne out in research on the subject as well.

One piece of feedback to note; you felt that safety measures at school should be stronger. Another Rising Educator from the same school in Versailles, said, “we should have metal detectors or have ID cards to get into school.” A student from Nebraska, said she felt safer due to her school having a "higher police presence" than last year. But that "it still seems really easy for someone to get in that isn't supposed to." Almost universally, those of you who responded stated you oppose arming teachers. In the PDK poll, 71% of adults said they would prefer more mental health services over armed guards as a portion of school security spending. Ed Rising students also report that they’d like more attention paid to metal health issues but that should be better trained and that students find it hard to approach them. “The administration expects the student to come to them, but it is difficult to ask for help,” said Jackson Dupont of Brusly, Louisiana, “The staff could be better educated in spotting the signs.” Another anonymous student said, “Many people don’t open up about their mental issues at school. I feel like if the school was able to listen and adjust to everyone’s mental needs and relay the fact that it is all confidential would help.