By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
Elementary, middle, and high schools can play a powerful role in promoting safe, healthy relationships in students’ lives. Recent years have brought an intense focus to issues related to school safety, especially in the wake of the tragic school shootings that have made the news. In response to these events, many schools have taken a deeper look at their security procedures. For example, many schools practice lockdown drills so that teachers can train students in what to do in the event of a school shooting or other serious emergency situation.
A focus on school safety can move beyond these measures toward a more comprehensive focus on fostering safe, healthy relationships, among students, between students and their teachers, and in the home lives of students. In addition to becoming equipped to respond to students who are known or suspected to be living in violent homes, as we’ve addressed in a recent blog post, school personnel can be proactive to foster school climates that promote safety at every level. This proactive approach aims to prevent future violence, create a culture that does not tolerate violent or abusive behaviors, and build a community of students, faculty, and staff who intentionally act in ways that foster safe and peaceful relationships.
What does this climate look like? Every school is unique, so it’s likely that each school’s needs and goals for fostering this safety-focused climate will vary. However, the following list includes some goals and strategies that schools may work toward in fostering a school climate that promotes safe, healthy relationships.
Can you envision the type of school described below?
The strategies listed above are just a sampling of the ways that schools can work toward fostering a climate of safety and nonviolence. Working toward this climate requires “big picture” thinking that leads to creative strategies that meet the changing needs of diverse student populations and their families. Because of the amount of time that students spend at school and involved in school-related activities, schools have a powerful influence on the lives of students. This influence can be channeled toward helping create students who are informed, engaged students who learn how to promote safe, nonviolent lives and relationships.