Safety in, out of classroom a priority

Published 11:39 am Wednesday, August 31, 2022

JORDAN BROOKS

jordan.brooks@middlesboronews.com

Ensuring a healthy learning environment for youth is a top priority for educational institutions, families, and the overall community. Although overall rates of school violence in the United States have considerably decreased, the threat of violence remains a problem for today’s students. When school safety is discussed, programs, behaviors and risk-reduction efforts that serve to improve students’ well-being and help them succeed within a safe environment.

Some schools have adopted deterrence-based approaches for improving safety, such as zero-tolerance policies, while others have invested in technology, such as metal detectors and security cameras. Others have taken preventative approaches, such as school- or community-based violence prevention programs. Schools may also combine multiple approaches. Though the overall evidence base for what works in school safety is somewhat limited, research has found that addressing and improving school climate, targeting bullying behavior, and using research and evidence to guide violence prevention are some of the critical steps for creating and maintaining a safe learning environment for students.

Staying informed and updated is critical for teachers, students, school resource officers, and others on campus. Implementing the tools, policies, and procedures to ensure their entire campus community is safe and protected.

The district must also keep their staff in the know about everyday matters, such as yearly training sessions and routine school safety drills.

Bell County attempts to follow these ideals and state guidelines to a tee. Bell County High School strives to provide an education that broadens the intellect, builds character and leads students to lifelong learning and service. The school district’s safety guidelines also strive to take both a preventive and deterrence-based approach, addressing school climate both inside and outside of the classroom, ultimately relying on a network of teachers, staff and the students.

Bell County High School Principal Brian Crawford says he knows all schools in the district have one entrance to the building with double security.

“All visitors have to be buzzed to be allowed to come in and speak and show ID and state purpose,” he said.

Procedures are in place for drug and weapons detection, and staff are trained annually on responding to emergencies and reporting suspicious activity. The special law enforcement officers move through each of the schools in the district, and each of the officers are armed while on campus. Teachers and staff, including substitute staff, go through specific training each year, along with annual safety drills. One additional safety measure the school has discussed, Crawford says, is implementing metal detectors at the entrances of the buildings.

Hard safety measures inside of the classroom cannot control outside life. But despite what happens outside of the classroom, Crawford ultimately says he has faith in his students when it comes to being safe in the schools.

“The kids know how to report anything suspicious, and they’re really good about that,” he said. “They’re all really good with technology.”

Crawford believes communication is the key to success when it comes to safety, and a network of support is also necessary whenever conflict may arise.

“The bottom line is, kids are kids, and they don’t seem to have the coping skills we as adults have,” Crawford said. “We have trained guidance counselors and staff to help them grow and develop these coping skills.”

Crawford recognizes that bullying and school safety is very different than it was years ago with the added challenge of social media. Bell’s school counselor’s attempt to help reduce obstacles preventing students from reaching their potentials, including  Above all, they equip students with the skills, strategies and support they need to build the foundation for a successful and productive life.

Safety is a top priority for the school district, whether or not it originates from inside or outside of the classroom.

The principal says to look for the “contact us” section on the district school page at www.bell.kyschools.us if you or someone you know suspects suspicious activity to report it anonymously, or to call the Tip Line provided by the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security at (866)-EYE-ONKY (866-393-6659).