Last Friday, I was all set to put up a blog post about preparing toddlers for kindergarten, but the events at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., made kids sounding out words seem a little less relevant. (Stay tuned, pre-K conversation will be coming up in a future post.)
For now, I want to the experts to talk about school safety. It is an essential ingredient to a workable learning environment. It doesn't take a licensed therapist to understand that kids can't learn anything when they don't feel safe. In a recent student opinion poll from My Voice, 42 percent of the respondents said there was violent crime in their community and more than half said bullying is a problem in their school.
In 2009, the Education Department and the Justice Department did a joint study on crime in schools. The study found that 75 percent of public schools recorded one or more incident of violent crime, and 25 percent reported that bullying occurred between students on a daily or weekly basis.
"Schools should be safe havens where young people can learn and prosper, and anything less than that is unacceptable," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder when they released it. I don't think anyone would disagree with that statement.
From bullying among classmates to deranged gunmen invading an elementary school classroom, it seems as though students are less mentally and physically safe than we all would like to believe. What must be done to bolster school safety? How can communities make sure that schools are protected beyond basic law enforcement? Are there things that federal and state governments can do? Do gun rights have any place in this conversation? How can students become engaged in discussions of their own safety?