keep kids safe at school

How to Keep Kids Safe at School

If you spend just a few minutes viewing viral videos going around the Internet (we don’t recommend it), it becomes easy to see why so many parents are nervous about school. Bullies on buses, fights in the hallways, shootings, even school resource officers dumping kids out of desks and dragging them across the floor. How safe is your child’s school?

Yes, it’s a dangerous world across the board. We can keep the doors locked at night. We can make sure they wear a seatbelt in the car. We can SPF 100 their skin at the beach, but we can’t shield our children from every detail of day to day reality. [Tweet This] School is a fact of life, and even in kindergarten, they let go of our hands and march through the school doors without us.

What’s an All Pro Dad to do? Is self-defense the answer? How about keeping a low profile? Do we teach our kids (and ourselves) how to cope or do we pull them out altogether? How safe is your child’s school? Check out the following ideas designed to keep kids safe at school.

Teach your kids to respect others. 

The simplest way to gain respect is to give respect. Giving respect is different from trying to be everyone’s friend. Help your child understand how their kindness and the respect they offer others can create a more peaceful atmosphere for everyone. This applies both to students and adults. Not being disrespectful in the first place significantly lowers the odds of being hurt by a bad teacher or a bad cop. 

Create a family culture where there are no secrets.

Children need to know that they can come to their parents with anything. Once any topic becomes taboo, it opens up the possibility that parents don’t want to know what’s going on in the kids’ lives. Like it or not, parents must have information at their fingertips. If you tend to react and repress certain topics, that’s a move away from safety.

Teach your children to be kind to those who are bullied.

Bullying can only continue with the consent of those who choose to do nothing. All children are valuable, and none should be pushed around. Sometimes all it takes is for one other child to come alongside a bullied child, and the victim culture will fall away. So teach your children to be leaders in kindness as well as respect. As a parent, ask for, advocate for, and support anti-bullying programs.

Know their environment (volunteer at school).

Be present at your child’s school. Don’t wait for conference night, volunteer. Get to know the names of your child’s teachers and the administrators. Be a visible presence.

Teach your child (and yourself) common sense survival skills.

Learn and make sure your child knows your school’s emergency response protocols. Panic usually occurs in response to confusion, so know the plan inside out.

Sound Off

What concerns do you have for student safety?

Derek Maul

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men’s resource, a committed encourager, and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

  • Ben Williams

    I like the no secrets atmosphere. I grew up thinking that it was better to avoid discussing issues and that to be strong was to overcome issues by “toughing it out” in silence. I hope that I can respond to my boy’s problems by encouraging them to talk things through, and coming to an understanding. Thanks for the great article.

  • David

    In large metro-areas, public high schools are not safe. My children have attended both public and private schools; never had a disciplinary issue, straight a and multiple year varsity lettermen…I’m lucky their good kids. After over 100 volunteer hours, meeting with police, counselors and administrators, we are pulling them out because of systemic limitations within the public schools system. Muggings, stabbings, gang rapes in bathrooms, illegal drug use on campus, police offers hospitalized after student attacks and racially motivated violence have make Houston public high schools not only unsafe; but, nonfunctional. We toured multiple private high schools. Not one had armed police walking the halls, no locks are needed on lockers, well lit parking lots, no metal detectors, no gang colors, no cigaret/pot smoke lingering in the air. While a applause the wise message above, it’s just not enough to keep children safe. My family will be insolvent after my last daughter graduates from high school; but, she’ll be safe in private school.

    • Derek Maul

      You make a good point about thoroughly researching your local school. Regardless of where children attend school, though, it’s always a great idea to practice the principles and ideas recommended here – Derek Maul

  • Enrique

    School resource officers dumping kids and dragging them? Did you not follow up on that story and hear all the kids who supported that? The only thing dangerous in that school room was that girl seated in her desk. So, you lost all credibility with me from the get go. Couldn’t even read your article after that ridiculous statement.

    • Derek Maul

      Sorry you were unable to compete the read! But thanks for sharing your opinion – dialogue is always helpful. I honestly believe there’s room for disagreement while agreeing we all need to do a better job of interacting with others in stressful situations. I was an exceptional education teacher for two decades, and we – along with the school resource officers – undertook hours of training to equip us to avoid escalation in physical confrontations. I can assure you there are many effective interventions the officer in question could have utilized that are more professional and more safe than what happened. I taught “Crisis Prevention Institute” techniques to entire school staffs countywide. – Derek

  • Tracy Wade

    I agree with Enrique, the SRO did not abuse that child. While he could have cleared the classroom and thereby removed the young ladys audience, he handled the situation within sccja training and guidelines. The student in that situation is what made for an unsafe environment in the classroom. You lost all credibility with me on that opening statement.

    • Derek Maul

      Sorry about the credibility issue. You might want to read my response to Enrique below. Regardless, there’s room for growth for all of us in terms of understanding the issues and the best possible responses – myself included. Best – Derek

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Call a family meeting, talk about safety, and ask the kids how safe they feel at school.

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