•Guide to Public School Education •Services, and Advocacy for health, disability and General Education Coping •Peer Issues•Vaping & Items not allowed in Schools•Racism & Harassment • Dress• Positive Reinforcement•Violence in School & Society
These topics & more covered in new book & guides coming out 2023!
Start here with School Safety Plans Not Making The Cut & Why
•Day 2 of School 2022-2023
“It’s about to get heavy”
School Safety • Who to listen to?
•Back to School.. new grade, new lockers, new notebooks, new teachers, classes.
•Familiar faces (happy and irritating) both can make you feel happy to get back to your regular bus or school schedule!
•After a great first day …reality set in.
As A Parent, LCSW and Educator
On day two, hearing the familiar school safety drills were addressed in all grade levels… there was quite a discrepancy in the take-away from the lesson, and drills reviewed.
•Prior to sharing my views based on experience, research & state mandates, I will share the issue. It appears that this is treated in some districts as if the game of telephone ( you tell one person, they tell another, and so on…).
When staff has to teach building safety to their students in todays violent society; my expectation would be that it is done clearly and communicated in the same manner to all students by grade level
• Schools have a responsibility to acknowledge humanity. Everyone from parent, student to staff carries their own life experiences. In fact, this discussion was only a few days prior to 9/11. In NYS and elsewhere that hits a lot of people hard.
•This said, is if the sum of the information that is relayed to the class cannot be a uniform message as we’d like, it presents a huge problem.
As eluded to .. the information is then a mere individual staff member’s interpretation. This includes taking into account their role, any feelings of fear, anger, or frustration with the process or topic.
•Unless staff has fully processed their own issues, expressed concerns about the plan and been directed to have consistency in discussions across the buildings, safety will be compromised.
At this point, the drill is immediately compromised, the message changed to the staff member’s view and that is how and what, is shared with their students. This impacts how successful the plan will be executed.
🚒🚨🌪🌩🌨🔫🔒🚌🤷🏻♀️🤒🩺 🏦 Many things can cause the need for emergency evacuations- not just school shootings which is what I think staff is focused on. A school near a bank frequently robbed can cause numerous lockdowns. A person having an accident into the utility pole, an illness or threat of school violence.
Vignette 1 (school staff member of grades 6-8• not a known person)
• Sample Situation I know of the drill “practice and discussion event “ went to some interesting places.
•One took place in a NYS suburban middle school
1. Class Discussion students were spoken to about how to physically take on the “person in the building “ during a lockdown with reaching toward the head ear and neck and eye area.
a. There are a number of alternatives for this.*
2. Drill for lockdown When students followed their instructions the staff member asked why they were in the one side of the room… they pointed out in the particular room you cannot be seen in different areas..from the window
a. Uniform rules for all students in rooms should apply unless special area ( these areas should be discussed) but from class to class students should not deviate or be discouraged from doing what they know).
3. Drill to Safe Place These same students were supposed to follow “coordinates” to lead them to teacher – half the class ended up somewhere else. Nothing else was made clear.
Issues My professional opinion is there was little value to this. Nothing seemed well communicated or carried out well so that it could be executed during an emergency. Kids were taught physical skills for use without experiential training and against weapons this was advise that I am not comfortable with.
•At it’s core the need to develop organizational knowledge related to safety plans is a state-wide law for school districts. How professionals communicate information on this delicate subject to their staff, and students is left up to the individual district
•As my original course of study was Sociology, Health & Human Services and Media( you need not have that background) to help identify that we are all, as people inherently different in our interpretations of information.
•Humans vary on their perception based on their experiences which often impact our sensitivity, expertise, and comfort level with certain issues.
•Unless a lot of self – reflection is done, we cannot step away from our own biases. Try to address a myriad of safety issues and it will showcase a vast array of different approaches based on the topic and the person.
•As a school social worker, alumni mentor, administrator, and business owner everything I was taught to explain was fact based on pre -planned information.
•Advising a hallway of over 10 classrooms through every emergency for over 10 years, I had the responsibility to support each staff member in following plans, listening to my radio for changes and following instructions through various steps of each drill. My job was to continue get to them and check every hall in between to be sure they were safety in a central area. I was aways the last out.
•In running fire drills for a building of over 1000 students my responsibility was to be sure I was the last one there, no matter what and watch our time while radioing to be sure all students were accounted for and the building was throughly checked and local fire and district office duties were full filled prior to an organized return and full attendance.
The Bottom Line
•In no scenario was a child to be alone in a bathroom, roaming the halls, or running out of the building.
Mitigating the circumstances
•There came a time years ago, after the Newtown tragedy (a district not too far) when the protocol changed.
•No classroom was left unlocked at anytime during the day
•The ultimate goal was to stop most every attempt to have kids and staff exposed or alone during there time in the building .
•The locked door plan was heavily enforced and extended to teachers not letting teachers or students in at any door after the start of school without their key card. The only entrance after that time was the main door.
• Student re-entry to visit from previous years had to have an appointment and that teacher had to let the office know.
•There we’re some items the plan didn’t take into account.* Overall, it was excellent and on the whole safer than open classrooms.
•Today, everything from school violence to “ lockdowns” to self -defense during lockdowns ( should your child find themselves faced with the perpetrator) was laid out by teachers based on their personal knowledge.
•Teacher fear is normal and should be addressed by unions, and superintendents.*
•The school building should have more preparations *
*I go into this further in my book coming out soon!
Stick to the Script: Best for Staff
To support parents or teens :
Please check that your child did not pick up any extra info from school, peers, siblings, movies or other schools.
•I acknowledge the words of support shared regarding other options on self defense comes from fear and love … it is not safe in this informal setting- generally, not at all.
•I ask that we do not allow informal teaching by explanation of self defense (a few moves to young kids with a range of height and strength)…this is not preparedness against weapons and can cause many different unfavorable outcomes. *
•I offer the only answer against a gun is no answer. We have to accept that and do more to create safe schools, and deal with school violence.*
•The best preparation is zero physical preparation other than other means of protection.
•Teaching kids to run out … nothing in their hands – “generally a no.*
•I share this as a long- time school staff / admin member in NYC, the Bronx, Long Island NY. MST Therapist with teens in schools, courts, and homes in Buffalo, avid researcher of school violence, and anti violence procedures and above all else a parent.
Message for You:
•May the heaviest things get for your child this year be the peer issues dealt with as kids or less!
•Society has become a different place.
* Watch for new ways to manage peer / social anxiety, media etc coming soon !
Thank you to all the school staff and educators, parents and students … nothing is easy everyday is a work in progress!
•Wishing you, your child and school staff a brilliant and calm school year!
M. Abramsky LCSW… For more info stay tuned on book coming out soon addressing this and more!