School is somewhere we should feel safe sending our children, where they can learn and flourish. However, when senseless acts occur such as the most recent attack at Sandy Hook Elementary, or the 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School, questions are raised asking about the real safety of our children.

Learning takes place in a very specific environment, one that is free from violence and bullying. What can we do to prevent future occurrences of similar incidents from happening? And, how can we do this within the constraints and limitations our public schools are already facing?

Fortunately, our school systems have been proactive in creating programs that work towards answering these questions. Since 1999, programs such as Safe2tell have been created, allowing students to anonymously report suspicious behaviors and bullying. Technology has enabled our protection agencies to understand incidents more quickly, and response time has shortened. Our local police force now has more detailed layouts of schools, allowing them to be better prepared when tragedy occurs.

Specifically in Jefferson County, School Resource Officers are available to counsel troubled teenagers, educate students on safe behaviors, bullying prevention and general awareness. And while these resource officers can not stand at the front doors protecting our schools, their preventative measures such as identifying and speaking with students and parents, being more present in schools, and planning for future crisis, are all critical steps in helping to prevent future occurrences of tragedy.

What’s next? 

When tragedy occurs, our schools revise their plans using the additional knowledge obtained, in order to prevent future occurrences from happening in the same ways. Taking safety precautions, identifying signs of aggression early on and educating our children are some of the things that can be done using the information we have.

What parents can do:

  • Talk to your children about safety plans and signs of danger
  • Discuss school bullying and create a safe space to share what’s happening
  • Have a plan. If your child’s school goes into lockdown, what will your plan be?

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