Prevention advice on school shootings
The onset of a new year has seen yet another unfortunate school shooting claim the life of a young student in Tacoma, WA. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), the organization best known for its prevention education and icon, McGruff the Crime Dog, reminds students, parents, and teachers that we all must work together to reduce the violence in our schools.
"Our hearts go out to the victim, his family, and all those touched by this tragic event," said Alfonso E. Lenhardt, president and CEO at NCPC. "The school was obviously well prepared to take action when the events unfolded but we need to examine how the shooter was able to come into the school undetected with a weapon so we can prevent it from happening again in another school."
NCPC encourages schools to review existing safety measures and learn from these tragedies in order to prevent future school violence. Jim Wright, NCPC managing director for Children and Youth programs, stressed, "We need to learn how these shooters gain access to the schools, learn from those vulnerabilities, and implement appropriate safety measures that will reduce the opportunity for tragedies like this to occur in the future."
NCPC offers prevention advice to school administrators, teachers, students, parents, and law enforcement. Everyone must get involved and stay vigilant against people who mean to do harm against our children.
* Schools, parents, law enforcement, business people, and the community must all work together to protect our children.
* Be prepared for crisis or emergency situations. Preparedness is the first prong of prevention and it gives us a set of automatic tools.
Steps for Students
* Report suspicious behavior or threats by other students to a teacher or counselor at your school.
* Learn how to manage your own anger effectively. Encourage programs like conflict resolution or teen courts to resolve issues at school.
* Conduct your own school safety audit and share your concerns with school administrators and parents.
Steps for Parents
* Look for warning signs of a troubled teen. Also, listen to and talk with your children regularly - find out what they're thinking on all kinds of topics. Create an opportunity for two-way conversation, which may mean forgoing judgments or pronouncements.
* Discourage name-calling and teasing. These behaviors often escalate into fistfights (or worse). Whether the teaser is violent or not, the victim may see violence as the only way to stop it.
* Listen to your children and become involved in their school life. Be a volunteer or a coach. Join the PTA/PTO or simply visit the classroom.
* Get involved in the safety measures at your child's school. Ask how they control access to visitors, what is the emergency plan, and request periodic meetings to review school safety plans to identify holes or problems.
Steps for School Officials
* Examine past school tragedies to learn your school's vulnerabilities and enact safety measures. Offer periodic training to school staff on these safety measures and protocols and ensure compliance by all.
* Communicate and involve interested parents in school safety plans and ask for input to consistently improve potential problem areas.
* Request free school safety assessments for your school to identify potential problems and upgrades needed to your safety measures.
* Establish "zero tolerance" policies for weapons and violence. Spell out penalties in advance. Encourage reporting of threats of violence, weapons at school as a way to prevent situations.
* Control access to the school by visitors. All visitors should check in at a central location away from classrooms and must wear appropriate badges and have ID at all times
Steps for Law Enforcement Officers
* Help school officials assess their school's security needs, discuss the broad range of issues a good plan should examine, and help to implement appropriate measures.
* Get to know students in non-confrontational, non-emergency situations; help them see you as a resource, counselor, protector, and peacekeeper.
* Use your community policing skills to help the school form partnerships with other community agencies and groups to address problems.
About NCPC's school safety programs and resources
Be Safe and Sound - This public education program is designed to enlist parents and community members in helping the school develop a comprehensive, prevention-focused plan to make schools safer. Be Safe and Sound uses tested planning principles and builds on community-focused prevention strategies to bring the best thinking and resources from all parts of the neighborhood or community to focus on school security and safety.
Youth Outreach for Victim Assistance (YOVA) - In this partnership of the National Crime Prevention Council and the National Center for Victims of Crime, teams of young people in nearly two dozen communities work to help their peers prevent crime and get assistance if victimized.
* Youth identify violence problems in their communities - dating violence, bullying, hate crime, fighting, and more.
* They develop education campaigns - ranging from web pages, skits, public service announcements, and brochures to presentations - to address those problems from both prevention and victim assistance perspectives.
* YOVA youth last year directly served more than 24,000 youth. An estimated 1.1 people heard or saw a YOVA created PSA or a YOVA web site.
Teens, Crime, and the Community (TCC) - This program helps teens learn about crime; its impact on themselves, their families, their schools and neighborhoods, as well as ways to prevent crime.
* Teens are eager to learn how to keep themselves from becoming victims.
* Teens put their knowledge to work right way by designing and carrying out their own crime prevention projects in school or community.
The National Crime Prevention Council, a private, nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to be the nation's leader in helping people keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe from crime issued this statement in response to the killing of 17-year-old Henry Foss High School student Samnang Kok on January 4. Visit www.ncpc.org.