School Safety Experts Convene in Boston, Turning Tragedy into a Safer Tomorrow for K-12 and College Communities
Distinguished Panelists Hone In On Most-Effective, Actionable
School Safety Solutions
BOSTON – Oct. 26, 2015 – To tackle the ongoing and increasing challenges of school-related violence and safety, Safe and Sound Schools and the Boston University Police Department recently hosted a panel discussion, “From Tragedy to a Safer Tomorrow.” On Oct. 22, 2015, national and regional experts shared their personal experiences, perspectives, and suggestions to help first responders, parents, administrators and students take important strides toward improving school safety, from elementary through university settings.
The panel included:
- Michele Gay, founder and director of Safe and Sound Schools, and a Sandy Hook mom;
- Scott Paré, deputy director of school safety, Boston University Police Department;
- Kristina Anderson, founder and executive director of The Koshka Foundation for Safe Schools, and a Virginia Tech survivor;
- Mo Canady, executive director, National Association of School Resource Officers; and
- Andre Ravenelle, president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, and superintendent of Fitchburg Public Schools.
The event kicked off with a networking reception, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Meghna Chakrabarti of WBUR, Boston’s NPR station. Panelists addressed questions from the live audience and through Twitter via #ASaferTomorrow. Though the experts covered a lot of topics during the two-hour discussion, they focused on the core tenets of school safety:
- Assess potential threats and preparedness: school safety goes far beyond gun violence to include fire, harassment, bullying, weapons, bomb threats, drugs, bus, environmental and health and wellness. The first step for any school is to assess the measures, plans, practices and protocols it already has in place.
- Examine the physical space: simple enhancements to the structure of the building can help schools control access, deter violence and make it easier for teachers, administrators and law enforcement to take action quickly in an emergency.
- Assess the education and training offered in the school community: ensure that each community member is empowered to participate in his or her own safety and that of the community.
- Foster a culture of active awareness: make sure the community is aware of security measures in place, and encourage the all school community members to speak up and take action if they see something amiss.
- Establish a communication protocol: ensure the school community is tied into official communication channels and communicating with one voice to avoid the spread of misinformation social and unofficial sources.
- Collaborate with local law enforcement: in addition to establishing a partnership with local police, explore options for bringing in a School Resource Officer (SRO), a school-based law enforcement officer working on site to secure the school community.
- Continue the conversation: school safety should be a part of the ongoing dialogue among the school community. School safety improvement is a continual and active process.
“We don’t want to just inspire people, we want them to realize their own roles in school safety,” said Kristina Anderson, founder and executive director of The Koshka Foundation, and survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting. “We want people to own their responsibility, to take some small, actionable steps and repeat that. Each of us can have a big impact.”
“Prevention is key, and we can’t do it by ourselves,” said Scott Paré, deputy director of school safety, Boston University Police Department. “If you see something, say something and do something. Everyone should think ahead and have a plan so they know how to respond to any potential threat.”
“School safety is far too great a responsibility to put upon the shoulders of just one individual or one role in the community,” said Michele Gay, founder and executive director, Safe and Sound Schools. “So we must empower each person in the school community with the education, options, tools and training that support safe schools.”
For more information about Safe and Sound Schools, including free assessment tools, tool kits and resources, visit safeandsoundschools.org.
About Safe and Sound Schools
Safe and Sound Schools is a non-profit organization founded by Sandy Hook parents who lost their children during the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Winner of the 2015 SBANE New England Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools is dedicated to empowering communities to improve school safety through discussion, collaboration, planning, and sharing of information, tools, and resources. To get involved, visit safeandsoundschools.org.
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