Experts From Texas School Safety Center and Safe Kids Inc. Share Tips on Building a School Safety Culture

Building Culture of Safety

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“[School safety] is a collaborative process [that] can’t be siloed,” says Jeff Caldwell, former associate director for school safety readiness with the Texas School Safety Center. It’s important for schools to consider different perspectives, ideas, and solutions from various community members, such as students, parents, and teachers. In this webinar, Adam Coughran, co-founder Safe Kids Inc., and Jeff, discuss building a school safety culture. Click here to watch the full webinar. 

What are the pillars of school safety?

According to Adam Coughran there are three: 

  1. Physical – Examples include fences, cameras, and school safety software. Things schools implement to enhance the feeling of safety within the building or campus.
  2. Training and knowledge – School staff must be trained to utilize resources to their fullest and be encouraged to participate in safety drills so that everyone is prepared in the event of an actual emergency.
  3. Community – Engaging members of your community, such as parents and neighbors who live near the school, and having discussions with them about what can be done to enhance safety. 

Limiting the discussion of school safety to only the people who are on the safety team leaves schools unprepared to handle emergencies. 

What role do students play in creating a safe school culture?

Getting students’ perspectives on topics relating to school safety is crucial to establishing trust and making them feel like they have a learning environment they’re safe in. Additionally, students have voiced how a teacher’s involvement in drills can impact their own feelings towards school safety. For example, some students have said that if their teacher shows a lack of interest towards participating in school drills, they will believe the teacher does not value student safety. When students see teachers disregarding drills, they begin losing interest in participating in them as well. Strong relationships are built by teachers who take school safety seriously and value input from their students.  

What kind of school safety training is appropriate?

Although law enforcement programs train police officers with realistic simulations, taking this same approach with students and staff would likely cause more harm than good. Active shooter drills, for example, should not be so realistic that they cause the participants to experience stress and trauma. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the drills conducted are age and developmentally appropriate. 

Adam recommends keeping drills short (about 4-5 minutes long) and having conversations with students before and after to help them understand the purpose of each drill. Furthermore, Jeff suggests incorporating drill activities into daily activities to reduce stress and trauma. “Maybe the location where I move to in my classroom for lockdown might be the same area where I do on-the-floor story time,” says Jeff. Doing this will be especially helpful for younger students, as they’ll already be familiar with and thus more comfortable with the area in which the drill is being performed. 

How does Raptor support schools in developing their safety cultures?

Raptor Drill Manager allows users to schedule drills and track compliance, receive automatic notifications ahead of upcoming drills, quickly verify each building’s drill activity, and analyze reports to see what is working and where to improve performance. 

Contact us today to schedule a personalized demo. 

Related Resources

Bridging the Gap Between Schools and Public Safety
Collaborating with public safety improves school emergency preparation, response, and recovery.

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Bridging the Gap Between Schools and Public Safety

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