For students to feel satisfied with a school, they need to feel that they are treated fairly, to feel that the teachers support them and finally they need to feel safe within the school’s compound. This was revealed in a study that sought to find out the importance of the climate of the school and the satisfaction of students with the school. Violence, disorder and crime are problems that put both students and teachers in danger. In addition they make it difficult for teachers and students to concentrate on teaching and learning.
Every young person is required by the law to be in school making it necessary for personnel in schools to ensure children have a safe environment that is peaceful and secure so that learning goes on uninterrupted. Safety in schools ensures that students are able to concentrate their efforts on learning without worry of being at risk of harm. Schools where safety is a problem generally have poor performance and also have low attendance of classes. Further the teachers are less motivated to teach and often will seek transfers to safer schools. The students also have little motivation and are also not actively involved in other extracurricular activities. If in a high school, most of these students do not end up in college.
Most schools that have serious incidents of violence and crime are often found in communities where violence is a common feature. To deal with such a situation then, all members of the community need to be involved. This includes the teachers, students, parents,administrators, officers in law enforcement, community leaders, business leaders. professionals who serve the youth and mental health professionals. This is important since each professional has their own input in the school safety issue and schools have learning as their main objective not control of violence. In addition young people who are violent often require guidance and counseling more than punishment.
For a school’s safety program to be effective and efficient it is important to place emphasis on prevention, psychosocial skill development, alternatives that are positive and behavior that is socially competent. The school climate should be such that it helps to build upon the assets and strengths that the individual student has. This promotes self-esteem and helps to counteract traits that would otherwise lead to violence. An environment where students are involved in various pro-social activities leads to students finding a meaningful role in their school. This means that the students are less likely to participate in disorder, crime and school violence. However when students are alienated and feel like they have been deprived of a meaningful personal existence in school, then the likelihood to be violent is increased.
An assessment of the school’s safety is important for determinging how safe the school is and also as the initial stage in the development of a safe-school plan. The assessment includes a survey of the facilities within the school, resources that affect school safety such as information concerning the security personnel as well as surveys of parents, staff and students to find out their views concerning school safety. The administrators can then put in place as system that tracks and records incidents of crime and violence within the school. This should describe the procedure that staff will use to report the incidents to one central source where information will be put in different categories such as the name of the student involved, the violation, the place and time when a violation occurred and the response of the school to the act. This enables the school to identify students whose behavior is inappropriate and to provide the necessary referral and intervention.
The safe school plan should have a code for school discipline and strategies that teachers can use in various situations. Training staff for sensitivity in cultural and ethnic issues and resolution of conflict, how to interpret partnerships between agencies and in approaches in prevention of crime and violence. Partnerships between schools and agencies as well as the community which involve staff from the school are also an effective way of implementing the safe school plan. For instance school staff may provide volunteer services in the community with members of the community supporting extracurricular activities of the students. Administrators when establishing a prevention program should institute a reward system for good behavior and consequences for behavior that is not appropriate. It is also important that all the individuals and groups that are responsible for maintaining order in the school be aware of the laws both state and federal that are related to crime and violence in the school environment.
For students it is important that the school administrators and teachers provide for opportunities where extracurricular activities will be developed and the students find involvement in recreation activities so as to reduce involvement in gang activities and criminal behavior. Further, there should be specific programs to address prevention of drug trafficking and eliminate the influence of gangs. Most important, however is the role that every member of the community has to play in maintaining safe schools. This will ensure ownership of the safe school plan making implementing it easier.