Educators, Students & Community

School safety and security is not just a building design issue.  Educators, students and community members understand that issues of bullying, access to mental health services, and social emotional learning also play a major role in student safety (physically and emotionally.)  The following topic areas that have begun to be explored and are collected here:

Publishers of Content - Education is written about in articles, blogs, opinions and other formats on a daily basis by educators, researchers, reporters and other related professionals. These are often classroom teachers and administrators writing about what they know best with their colleagues as their audience. This is the ultimate in teacher voice opportunity. Two publications that stand out this arena are Education Week and The Hechinger Report.

Below you will find links that include articles that are related to the soft side of School Safety and Security, some tangentially but are impactful. You are encouraged to visit the Ed Week and Hechinger websites and “search” any topic of interest to you. You will be amazed at what you find.

Outdoor Learning for Mental Health & Student Success - It is theorized that many school shootings are perpetrated by students at those very schools due to a lack of strong connections with their peers and teachers, leading to isolation, depression, and anger at the school community.

One of the ways to help students succeed in school, provide a supportive setting for mental health, and create a positive atmosphere for social-emotional learning that benefits all occupants of the school relates to time spent outdoors.

There is a growing body of research demonstrating that when students spend more time outdoors, they are better able to focus, regulation attention and emotion, and form critical connections with peers and teachers. Research on human response to natural settings has shown that nature seems to inherently restore our decision-making and impulse-control capacity, and that it can promote more positive or calm moods.   Some targeted or immersive outdoor programs have shown additional benefits of exposing young people to real-life challenges and experiential education in a natural setting that provides appropriate risk, along with restoration and positive feedback.

Mental Health and Student Engagement - Discussions about school safety are often focused on the hardening of schools in order to provide protection for students. While these hardening solutions - secure entry vestibule, cameras, officers in schools, etc. - can be implemented relatively quickly, little is known about their effectiveness in preventing violence. Discussions about school safety must go beyond physical security and also address emotional safety, which includes student mental health and an understanding of the community context. Long-term solutions need to ensure schools remain safe havens, with particular focus on school climate - i.e., fostering student engagement and ensuring that students’ socio-emotional needs are met.  Areas of exploration include:

  • Social, Emotional, & Behavioral Support
  • Bullying & Youth Violence Prevention
  • Research, Training, and Support
  • Programs in Action
  • The Importance of Teacher Support

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Chicago Pledges $26 Million to Add Social Workers, Special Education Staff

Education Week, Denisa Superville, 7/16/2018

The Chicago Teachers’ Union has been calling for more social workers, psychologists, certified school nurses, and case managers but said the proposed staff increase falls short of what’s needed. The union said the city will need to hire nearly a thousand social workers to meet the recommended ratio of student to social worker.

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The Troubling Student-to-Counselor Ratio That Doesn’t Add Up

Education Week, Alanna Fuschillo, 8/14/2018

Nationwide, public school counselors are overworked and under-resourced. The average student-to-school-counselor ratio is 482-to-1—nearly double the 250-to-1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association.

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Why Do We Value Achievement Over Mental Health? A High School Senior Speaks Out

Education Week, Gabrielle, 8/16/2018

Student Opinion, Schools must step up to prioritize student well-being. Without our health, whether that be emotional, mental, or physical, students will not be able to learn.

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