Safe Schools Educators

Safe Schools:
Strategies for Educators


School personnel can help create safe schools. Here are some ways that teachers and other school staff members can do so:

 

  • Teach students about the nature and extent of violence in society and in their community. This is especially important for young people who have a natural tendency to believe they are immortal and who need to adopt an “it can happen to me” attitude. Complement discussions of violence with instruction on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
  • Prevent hate crimes by discussing and rejecting stereotypes of minority groups, encouraging interaction with members of different cultures, and encouraging an appreciation of diversity. Also, ensure that educational materials reflect the many cultures of this society.
  • Use existing courses to teach safety topics. For example, social studies or current events classes can discuss social unrest and resulting violence in society, English classes can write essays on self-esteem or interpersonal conflict, and art classes can design antiviolence posters.
  • Teach students about the damaging effects of sexual harassment and sexual assault. From an early age, children can learn the difference between “good touching” and “bad touching,” and that “no means no.” Older students can have group discussions about dating and relationship expectations.
  • Instruct students in laws that affect juveniles and the consequences for breaking these laws. Take students to visit a jail--to observe incarceration firsthand and to talk to prisoners about what brought them there. Encourage respect for the law by leading discussions of social contract theory and other theories about creating laws.
  • Tell students about the lethal impact of guns and the legal implications of carrying or using guns. Try to counteract the attractiveness of guns to young people. Emphasize that students should not carry guns, and include a discussion about gun safety.
  • Videotape television new stories that describe actual incidents involving guns, and ask students to watch and discuss the tapes.
  • Teach elementary and secondary students to avoid gang activities, and provide them with alternative programs to meet their social and recreational needs. Invite guest speakers who work with gang members, such as law enforcement or probation officers, to speak to classes or assemblies. Former gang members who have “turned their lives around” may also tell stories that inspire students to keep away from gangs.
  • Teach problem-solving skills in both academic and extracurricular school settings.
  • Tell students that anger is an acceptable feeling, but that acting on anger in violent ways is unacceptable. Teach children how to express their anger nonviolently or to confront the source of their anger with plans to “work it out” through peaceful, problem-solving discussions.
  • Offer assistance in finding jobs, especially to students who are at risk of dealing drugs or joining a gang because they feel they have no legitimate way to make a living and take care of themselves.
  • Teach students social skills, such as how to use self-control, communicate well with others, and form and maintain friendships.
  • Talk with students about being “good sports” to discourage the disruptive and sometimes violent behavior that can break out at school athletic events. Encourage coaches, teachers, parents, and other adults to set good examples.


Source: These strategies have been reproduced in many sources. See Cristina Bodinger-DeUriarte and Anthony A. Sancho. 1992. Hate Crime. Los Alamos, CA: Southwest Center for Educational Equity, Southwest Regional Laboratory.

 


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