Public schools are in the news on a daily basis. It seems like every day something horrible happens in American schools, and very little good news is ever heard. In truth, American schools are a lot safer than the media make them out to be.
Public schools are safe for the children who attend them. While horrible tragedies such as school shootings tend to make the news with ease, the daily safety of students is rarely praised or even featured on the news. In truth, schools tend to be one of the safest places for children to spend their day-to-day lives, protected behind heavy doors and with well-trained professionals.
According to HangSafe Hooks, the most common cause of injuries in schools (90%) is from accidents. Of course, there are intentional incidents such as those caused by bullying, but more often than not, kids’ clumsiness is what leads to the largest amount of injuries in the public school system. In general, kids tend to be protected by the mere makeup of the classroom itself.
Most doors in American schools are both heavy and fortified. They tend to lock automatically, meaning that teachers can close the door while they are teaching without fear of someone unwelcome getting in. In the old days, teachers would have to create barricades to keep intruders out, but with the advent of fortified and even steel doors, students are much safer than they had been in past years. Most schools have a locked-door policy, meaning that these heavy doors are locked and only able to be opened by school personnel or members of the local police department. Schools that do not have this shut-door policy tend to leave the doors locked but propped open. Teachers in these schools are trained to move the door stop and cover the window in the event of an intruder or threat within the building during school hours.
Another form of protection within the public school system is actually the windows. According to Security Magazine, the majority of windows in school classrooms are double-layered, meaning they are difficult to penetrate and are also coated with a reflective sealant that makes them appear mirrored from the outside for an added layer of protection. While the majority of school windows are not bulletproof, the film they are coated with does make them much safer than typical windows. Students do not notice these safety measures because they are only visible from the outside, keeping students safe in a subtle way that does not distract from the learning environment.
Schools in the United States of America are equipped with intercom systems almost universally. These intercom systems let the entire school know when there is a threat as well as when there is a general announcement that impacts the entire school. This open communication greatly reduces instances of danger in the classroom. Many school systems have code words in place that are known only to the school staff. These code words are rotated out on a monthly basis to keep would-be intruders unaware of the systems in place.
Classrooms are, more often than not, equipped with a phone system. This phone can dial out of the building, but it can also be used to reach the front office directly. Being able to subtly reach out to security can allow teachers to de-escalate situations within the classroom itself. Phones can also be used to let the front office know if a student is being sent to the office in order to keep tabs on students’ whereabouts. The installation of phones in classrooms increase clear communication and decrease risky and dangerous situations from arising.
Students and school personnel alike go through extensive safety training. Drills are practiced on a monthly basis. These safety drills range from ones that have been in place for decades, such as the fire drill to the active shooter drills, which are much newer in comparison. Each drill has a specific purpose. Fire drills help prevent students from being trapped or trampled over in the event of a fire. Shelter-in-place drills are meant to help everyone remain safe and calm in the event of a tornado or earthquake. Active shooter drills are meant to prepare the students and staff if there were a threat inside of the building. Lockout drills have been enacted to keep everyone alive and well if there were a threat outside, such as a dangerous animal sighting near the building. Overall, these trainings are all in place to ensure the safety of students. They keep American schools a safe place for individuals to learn.
Parent communication is a more subtle and daily form of protection for students in American public schools. Administrators contact parents regarding upcoming drills as well as daily goings-on. For example, administrators tend to email, call home, or text in the event of an outbreak of disease, such as a flu outbreak. Parents are also contacted when there is inclement weather and schools are set to close. By having clear and direct communication with parents, administrators create and maintain safety for students as well as peace of mind for the parents of those children.
It is difficult, at times impossible not to worry about the well-being of your little one. After all, pretty much everything you do is to ensure they are happy, healthy, and safe. While it is completely normal to worry about the safety of your child when they leave your house and head to school, American schools are actually much safer than they were in the past. Between security measures in place within the schools and the training that both staff and students go through on a yearly basis, students in American schools tend to be safer in a classroom than in any other place they occupy on a daily basis. In spite of the fear-mongering that goes on in the news media and among parents after a tragedy strikes, American schools are really very safe places.