Parents always send their kids to school hoping that they are safe and well protected while they are there. We trust schools to be an environment with no dangers or threats to children. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Crime statistics in schools have fluctuated up and down over the last decade. During some school years statistics have shown that students were safer at school than outside of school. During other periods of time the rate was about the same.
The most current data from the National Center for Education Statistics reports that 65 percent of public schools had incidents of violent crime at least once from 2013-2014. That would equate to about 15 crimes for every 1,000 students.
Typical violence found at school includes bullying, any form of physical fighting, the use of a weapon against another student or teacher, bullying online, and sometimes even gang violence.
Tacoma Juvenile Defense Attorney Mark Treyz often finds that the juveniles he comes across do not understand the consequences of their actions. Many children and young adults feel like they are invincible and can often not understand that one decision could impact them for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, in 2014 the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that over 1 million arrests were made involving children under the age of 18. The good news is that this is down 50% from the previous year.
There are some easy lessons parents can share with their children from an early age so that they can learn to be vigilant and protect themselves when they are at school.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. In addition to making sure your child is always alert to any present dangers, it’s possible that students will see and hear more than teachers and administrators. If a child is going to commit a crime it is more likely that they will be cautious of someone in charge catching them, than another student.
Children should also know what topics are serious matters and should be reported right away when they do become aware of a potential problem. For young children speak to them regularly about what they experienced at school so they get comfortable talking to you about it, and you can potentially screen for anything that could be a problem that they bring up.
- Make sure when children are old enough they know what bullying is. It’s important to learn what bullying is and how it makes others feel. While most parents would never expect their child to become the class bully it is sometimes a behavior learned at school where they can be easily influenced. It’s important for your child to know that being on either side of bullying is unacceptable. Many states require administrators to warn teachers about students who have violent propensities, but they are not required to notify other parents.
- Safety drills and lockdown drills can be intimidating for small children. Review these drills with them at least twice a school year to make sure they were present for school dills, and that they understand exactly what is expected of them. In addition to this they should know who their emergency contacts are if something ever did occur.
The best way to help your child is to make sure they are well prepared and learn from an early age what is expected of them. Learning how to treat others with respect and understanding that violence, crime, and bullying could lead them down a bad path is incredibly important to help them understand.