ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Classes will be back in session in just a few days and school safety is on the minds of students, parents and teachers. Members of the New York State United Teachers task force met over the summer to discuss their personal experiences dealing with violent behavior and how to implement best practices in schools.
Experts say school safety means more than being prepared for emergencies. It’s the day-to-day concerns that should be addressed before anything can go wrong, and it’s a community effort. That’s why the NYSUT task force created The Safe Schools for All report, which points to several key issues such as:
- Addressing social-emotional needs of students
- Ensuring appropriate staffing levels
- Fostering community partnerships
- Confronting the crisis of mass violence in schools.
On the task force is Jaclyn Schildkraut, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at SUNY Oswego, who researches schools and mass shootings in the U.S. She says there are typically warning signs mass shooters exhibit before they plan their attack, “Educating students on what leakage looks like is incredibly important, but it’s also incredibly important to create a culture where people understand that coming forward is helping and not snitching and then providing them with mechanisms to do so in a way that’s most comfortable to them.”
Schildkraut says some students are completely fine telling adults about questionable student behavior, but others would do better sharing that information with an anonymous tip line which she recommends schools implement. “Schools and communities both need to have threat assessment teams with connections to law enforcement and community mental health providers to not only identify the threat, but also assess its credibility and the means to carry it out,” said Schildkraut.
President of NYSUT, Andrew Pallotta says one goal is to have state lawmakers look over the report and see what works best for their districts, “Something that works in New York City may work in Albany or Pittsford, but it also may not work.”