School safety is a complicated issue. It affects children, teachers, administrators, and parents in a variety of ways, from the quality of learning to the risk of lawsuits. But it is also everyone’s responsibility, and schools should remind stakeholders of their respective roles in promoting school safety and security. Security Services Cape Town
So where should a school start? Below is a list of ideas that schools around Cape Town or the whole of South Africa can implement to improve their safety and security measures:
- Limit entryways to school buildings. Clearly mark the main entrance to the school and post signs on other entries redirecting visitors to the main entry. Lock outside access doors. Check periodically to make sure the doors haven’t been tampered with or propped open. The periodic inspections should include windows too.
- Monitor the school parking lot. If possible, have a parking lot monitor who oversees people entering and leaving the campus.
- Monitor and supervise student common areas such as hallways, cafeterias, and playgrounds. If possible, add video surveillance in these areas to record anything a monitoring person may miss.
- Promote school-community partnerships to enhance safety measures for students beyond school property (police surveillance, Neighborhood Watch programs). There are willing community organizations that can help.
- Consider the presence of school resource officers, local police, and/or security guards.
- Monitor school visitors. Require that visitors report to the main office, sign in, and wear visitor badges. All staff should be trained to report strangers not wearing a visitor badge to the school office.
- Create a safe, supportive school climate that provides school-wide behavioural expectations, caring school climate programs, positive interventions and supports, psychological and counselling services, and violence prevention programs.
- Encourage students to take responsibility for their part in maintaining safe school environments. Reward students who take the initiative to help keep schools safe.
- Institute strict procedures for key control. Assign the responsibility for locking and unlocking the school to as few individuals as possible. Number the keys in existence and document who has which school keys.
- Keep unoccupied rooms and spaces locked when not in use.
- Ensure that all classrooms, including portable and temporary classrooms, have two-way communication with the office.
- Provide students with access to anonymous reporting systems (student hotlines, “suggestion” boxes, “tell an adult” campaigns). Young people sometimes have a difficult time speaking up if they see or hear something that may compromise school security. Allow them the means to communicate without the embarrassment of being labelled a “tattle tale”.
Administrators can reinforce the importance to school safety by creating a caring school community in which adults and students respect and trust each other and all students feel connected, understand expectations, and receive any behavioural and mental health support they need.
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