Article by Andy Demidont
The SERAPH Research Team which provides a biyearly school safety report for Congress has released its “FIVE CRITICAL SCHOOL SAFETY ISSUES list.
The list was developed from interviews with teachers, school security personnel, police and principals from 120 school districts throughout the United States.
1. LACK OF ACCURATE UNDERSTANDING OF SAFETY ISSUES – Many schools and school districts have performed poor assessments of their school safety as it relates to everyday management of the schools. Schools have security audits performed which focus on physical security such as cameras and emergency plans. These audits do not address classroom management, sub cultural groups, educational objectives, special education, negative behavior cliques and sexual issues.
“School environments must be analyzed from an educator’s perspective”, says SERAPH Research Team leader Andreas Demidont, “Another aspect of this issue is that schools often have no real way of collating the data into a meaningful set of action plans.”
2. REACTION NOT PREDICTION – Many schools and school districts have policies against student aggression and criminal behavior but fail to develop clear management procedures to assist staff and administrators in predicting and preventing these problems.
“Because schools generally do not have effective school safety management plans they resort to a crisis with reaction rather than preventing a crisis from happening”, states Demidont.
3. POOR MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOLS – Management issues in school generally fall into several categories :
Poor time management. “Time is the currency of learning and it needs to be treated that way by the schools,in the same manner as it is in the business community,” says Demidont.
Non-data based decisions. “Not because the data does not presently exist within the school but rather schools often lack an effective and efficient means of gaining access to it,” states Demidont.
Unwillingness to depart from conventional thinking.” If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you always have gotten,” states Demidont.
School boards being asked to make decisions without essential data. Poor use of technology to handle the mundane tasks. “A complete lack of understanding of how technology can be utilized to assure that administrator and teacher time is spent on educating students,” says Demidont.
Lack of effective on-going interactive community wide communications. “School officials must actively and regularly interact with parents and the community in general,” states Demidont.
4. LACK OF EFFECTIVE PLANS TO COMBAT TRUANCY AND LATENESS – School Districts do not seem to be willing to engage local, state and federal social service agencies as real partners in assisting them with truancy and tardiness.
“A formal plan of action with local courts, social services, and law enforcement is critical to reducing and controlling this serious problem”, says Demidont.
5. POOR EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT – Many schools have emergency plans but fail to train their staff members in the management of an emergency situation. An example of the problem is the lack of training for school staff members in the handling of special needs children.
“Special needs students are being placed in regular education classrooms without providing regular classroom teachers with the necessary and proper training and support,” states Demidont. “Children with various emotional or mental issues will panic in emergencies; proper training must be performed to give staff the skills necessary to manage the inevitable chaos and emotion that occurs in an emergency situation.”
Mr. Yeager began his education as a criminal analyst in 1988. He has extensive training including advanced training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
Mr. Yeager’s research work on violence has been published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and “Profiling Violent Crimes” [third edition] by Dr. Ronald Holmes.
Mr. Yeager is also a Federal law enforcement trainer for the HIDTA and MAGLOCLEN programs.
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