Be Proactive not Reactive: Tools to Prevent School Shootings

May 27, 2019

School shootings are unimaginably difficult to process and solve for communities, families, and schools. The problem represents larger partisan issues in today’s political climate that impede the implementation of basic school safety techniques. Apart from being controversial, change is slow to occur in bureaucracy. This is why taking the power into our own hands by applying basic foundational changes is important to achieve an effective proactive approach to school safety.

Don’t harden schools. Make them softer, by improving social and emotional health. – Call for Action To Prevent Gun Violence In The United States of America.

More schools are realizing a hard, rule-based and consequence-fueled approach to discipline is actually only a Band-aid to the uptick in school violence. taking a deeper look at the underlying factors that create negative behaviors and violence helps us. shift away from focusing on reactive solutions directly related to the shooter and provide structures where students feel encouraged, appreciated, and supported prevent horrific situations from occurring in the first place.

Support emotional engagement and intellectual development

The best recommendations come from the students themselves. Interviewing teens on their opinions, PBS reported high school students to believe that social-emotional learning —when students have time and access to support outlets — helps those with or without mental health issues refocus and center their emotions to be more productive in their personal and academic lives. Creating a positive school climate is a preventative measure of school violence by making students feel more connected and supported by their teachers and peers.

Arming teachers with school climate training

Training faculty and staff to emotionally connect with students improves school climates and fosters healthy academic and personal achievement. By reaching out to students, staff is teaching them important social skills which have a positive impact on their mental state and creates trust building and supportive relationships in and out of school. These social skills make students more aware of social cues around them and arm them with the confidence to speak up when others present uncharacteristic and threatening traits.

Teaching witness intervention

Almost all students who terrorized their community with a school shooting told someone prior to the event. More often than not this is a peer communication. Providing outlets for students to feel comfortable reporting suspicious conversations or social media activity could change the course of events. Schools must instill the importance of speaking up in their students. technology can act as a liaison for communication by accepting anonymous submissions that go directly school administrations.

Cyber Awareness

Social media has mutated into platforms where children are exposed to relentless cyberbullying. With more children on the internet today than ever, monitoring and limiting media use can keep students away from online harassment and nurtures their interpersonal skills through tangible social interactions. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school shooting events. Not only is it the school’s responsibility to mitigate these situations by limiting access to social media during the school day and teaching digital literacy, but also parents job to monitor their children’s screen time, use, and take time to talk to them and be someone they feel comfortable talking to about threatening online posts.

To learn more about fostering emotional support in your school system reference our blog post 5 Ways Technology Supports Healthy School Climates.

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