By Cameron Fox, Safe and Sound Schools Teen Ambassador
Through the Safe and Sound Schools Youth Council (SSYC), students can get the resources to easily create a school safety council within their own communities. I recently started my own chapter- the Summerville Youth Safety Council at my school, Summerville High in South Carolina.
In our first meeting, we brainstormed issues and areas of importance to improve our school’s safety. Many people believe that implementing more physical safety features such as cameras, windows, and locks, are the only ways that schools can become safer. While physical safety measures are extremely vital to a safe and secure school, our council asked ourselves questions like, ‘What other methods could impact the feeling of safety? What could the student body do to promote change?’ We came up with 4 ways students can make schools safer.
Build relationships between students and school staff
I believe that creating a familiarity with the school’s staff can encourage students to report safety concerns. Many students that I have spoken with are more comfortable speaking to a teacher rather than an administrative officer.
The council members and I came up with the idea of a Teacher-Student Breakfast held at the high school. The event will allow students to really get to know their teachers. This is important because the bond between teachers and students has a big impact on the safety of a school.
Know the difference between ‘snitching’ and reporting
Many students fear retaliation from peers, and become discouraged when it comes to reporting a threat. However, they don’t understand the greater risk of not saying something about suspicious activity. Speaking up can impact everyone in the school community. Students that report can save lives. This aspect of school safety is extremely powerful, and helps prevent potential threats.
Get to know the physical safety measures & protocols at school
My chapter realized that students within our high school don’t recognize the physical safety devices employed on campus. It is important to make them more aware about what these devices are and how they are used. I believe that educating students about this equipment is a simple way to empower students, and evoke a better feeling of safety.
Taking the 2019 State of School Safety Survey
Safe and Sound Schools has created a survey that allows students, teachers, and parents to share their thoughts on school safety. This is an easy, yet important, method to encourage individuals to speak about how safe they feel. This survey will gather your feedback and point out the topics that are trending across the nation. Just make sure you complete the survey here by Thursday, April 4, 2019!
I hope this blog post encourages other students to take action and be proactive to make their schools safer. Click here for the step-by-step process to start your own Safe and Sound Youth Council chapter.
Cameron Fox attends Summerville High School in South Carolina. She is a teen ambassador for Safe and Sound Schools and the reigning Miss Green Wave Teen 2019. As a titleholder within the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Organization, her advocacy platform is “Feeling Safe and Secure in Schools.” Cameron is an active member of the local Dorchester Task Force for School Safety, and her goal to ensure a safe learning environment for youth. She works to inspire students to utilize their voices and become leaders in their school communities.