for Working Together to Create Safer Schools
When crime, drugs, and violence spill over from the streets into
the schools, a safe learning environment becomes increasingly difficult.
Students carry weapons for protection. Gunfights start replacing
fist- fights. Many students must travel through gang turf or groups
of drug dealers just to get to school. Violence seems to become
an acceptable way to settle conflicts. And drugs make it hard for
users — and others — to learn. Students cannot learn and
teachers cannot teach.
Addressing the violence issue is difficult and complex; however,
there are ways to create a safer environment in which to learn.
Teens can't do it alone because there needs to be a community-wide
effort addressing the issue. They need help from others. But teens
can take the lead. Creating a safe place where you can learn and
grow depends on a partnership among students, parents, teachers,
and other community institutions to prevent school violence. Think
about the issues that affect your school, and see how you or a team
of people can make a difference in addressing the problem. Here
are some suggestions on how you can involve other students, parents,
school staff and others in the community to help create a safe school.
- Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons. If your school
doesn't have a conflict mediation program, help start one.
- Don't carry guns, knives, or other weapons to school.
Tell a school official immediately if you see another student
with a gun, knife, or other weapon.
- Report crimes or suspicious activities to the police, school
authorities, or parents.
- Tell a teacher, parent, or trusted adult if you're worried
about a bully or threats of violence by another student.
- Learn safe routes for traveling to and from school and stick
to them. Know good places to seek help.
- Help start a mediation program in your school. Or help begin
a student court that hears cases on violations on school policies — fighting,
stealing, or cheating.
- Get involved in your school's anti-violence activities — have
poster contests against violence, hold anti-drug rallies, volunteer
to counsel peers. If there's no peer counseling program
at your school, help start one.
If it's talking straight with your parents about school
issues or working with the PTA on holding meetings to educate adults
about drugs in your community, parents must be involved in creating
a safer school. Encourage parents to:
- spend time with you, attend the activities you're involved
in, or just have dinner together.
- teach children how to reduce their risks of becoming crime
- know where children are, what they are doing, and whom they
are with at all times. Set clear rules in advance about acceptable
- ask children about what goes on during the school day. Listen
to what they say and take their concerns and worries seriously.
- help children learn nonviolent ways to handle frustration,
anger, and conflict.
- refuse to allow children to carry guns, knives, or other weapons.
- become involved in school activities — PTA, field trips,
and helping in class or the lunch room.
The school staff including the administration must be behind any
effort to create a safer school. Here are a few ideas of how the
school can be involved in this effort. School staff and administrators
- evaluate school's safety objectively. Set targets for
improvement. Be honest about crime problems and work toward bettering
- develop consistent disciplinary policies, good security procedures,
and response plans for emergencies.
- train school personnel in conflict resolution, problem solving,
drug prevention, crisis intervention, cultural sensitivity, classroom
management, and counseling skills. Make sure they can recognize
trouble signs and identify potentially violent students.
- encourage students to talk about worries, questions, and fears
about what's going on in their schools, homes, and neighborhoods.
Listen carefully to what they say.
- take seriously students who make threats — even if it's
- take time to talk about violence or frightening experiences
that occur at school or in the neighborhood. Discuss the consequences
and get students to think about what other choices besides violence
might have been available. Get help from trained counselors, if
- work with students, parents, law enforcement, local governments,
and community based groups to develop wider-scope crime prevention efforts.
- be open to student-led solutions.
Look to community partners to enrich and make your school safer.
- Law enforcement can report on the type of crimes in the surrounding
community and suggest ways to make schools safer.
- Police or organized groups of adults can patrol routes students
take to and from school.
- Community-based groups, church organizations, and other service
groups can provide counseling, extended learning programs, before-
and after-school activities, and other community crime prevention
- State and local governments can develop model school safety
plans and provide funding for schools to implement the programs.
- Local businesses can provide apprenticeship programs, participate
in adopt-a-school programs, or serve as mentors to area students.
- Colleges and universities can offer conflict management courses
to teachers or assist school officials in implementing violence
- Recruit other teens, parents, school staff, police to develop
safe school task force.
- Start a conflict resolution program in your school.
- Set up a group for teens to share problems and solutions.
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council