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The National PTA started Take Your Family to School Week over 120 years ago. Celebrated February 14-18, 2022, the goal is to encourage parents to become more involved in their child’s school.
Can parents play a role in preventing school crises?
Yes. However, children often mirror the behavior of adults in their lives. As we have seen increasingly this school year, adults have become irate and threatening when it comes to schools and their COVID-19 response practices. In a recent Raptor webinar, Frank DeAngelis, Principal of Columbine High School during the 1999 school shooting said, “Our kids are going to model that behavior and that’s a major concern I have right now in our society and in our school communities.”
It’s important for parents to be good role models and learn how to effectively communicate with their children. Dr. Amy Grosso, Director of Behavioral Health at Round Rock ISD (Independent School District) in Texas, advises parents to teach their children why certain behaviors are unacceptable and what types of consequences they will face if they continue to misbehave. It is not enough to simply tell a child or adolescent that their behavior is unacceptable.
This can be challenging, especially when it comes to social media. Most of the social media platforms students use today were not around when their parents were growing up. Parents may not understand the social media platform or be aware of the types of behaviors their children are engaging in online. An increasing amount of students are being arrested for posting threats against schools on social media. Social media threats have become so common, in fact, that more schools closed in one week due to threats than due to the spread of COVID.
How can schools work with parents to address social media threats?
When it comes to social media threats, schools must be ready to act fast. Schools should have a plan to work with parents to monitor students on social media, as there are many potentially dangerous activities on platforms such as TikTok for example, that encourage students to partake in challenges that may cause disruptions to the learning environment and threaten the safety of others.
Aside from students posing threats to other students, schools and parents must also consider what to do when students pose a threat to themselves. With suicide being the second leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., identifying signs and symptoms early on is crucial, as it may prevent a catastrophic event from occurring.
While it is important for parents to partner with schools and members of law enforcement, as Dr. Grosso notes, “A lot of the adults on social media [are] not great examples either.” She recommends educators partner with parents to teach them how to lead by example and how to have conversations with their children about social media safety.
Training parents on what to look out for
To teach parents about social media, schools can host informational sessions about best practices and what parents should look out for when it comes to social media activity and trends. The sessions can be provided either in-person, such as part of an Open House event, or virtually. Schools can even partner with mental health professionals or law enforcement to instruct these sessions. School staff can also be included, as it’s equally important that they know what to look out for too.
How can Raptor help?
Schools must be prepared to handle incidents before they arise. Raptor Emergency Management covers the preparation, response, and recovery stages of an emergency and gives schools peace of mind knowing they will be in complete control of any type of emergency they may be faced with.