As educators, your main concern is the well-being and safety of your students.
There has been a shocking rise in school shootings over the past few years, with 2018 being the deadliest year so far. BBC News reports that in 2018 a startling 113 people have been killed or injured in school shootings in the United States. BBC also states, “with many parts of the US having about 180 school days per year, it means, on average, a shooting once every eight school days.” With the well-known Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting killing 17, and the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas killing 10, the number of deaths among students is notably higher on average for 2018.
School safety concerns like cybersecurity threats have also been on the rise. Unfortunately, the networks supporting K-12 school districts are typically not the strongest. According to Barkly, “schools are particularly susceptible to malware attacks for a number of reasons. For one, schools haven’t historically had to make cybersecurity a high priority, and they don’t always have a great deal of experience in fending off attacks.”
Budget constraints and easy Wi-Fi accessibility also leave hackers an easy entrance into school district networks. EdScoop states that since 2016, more than 350 incidents have occurred. At least one of those incidents resulted in threats of violence against children in several K-12 school districts.
Although it is extremely difficult to predict when and how a school safety threat will present itself, there are things that schools can do to help address these risks.
4 School Safety Tips for K-12 Schools
- Implement a Reliable School Notification System
When disaster strikes, you have to be able to notify your school community quickly. Implementing a school notification system backed by a secure network is a great way to ensure teachers, parents, students, and administrators can be contacted immediately in the event of a school safety threat such as an active shooter or cyber breach. Our SwiftK12 notification system enables administrators to reliably reach hundreds or even thousands of student families within minutes.
- Monitor Social Media
According to EdScoop, many districts are opting to monitor student behavior through social media. This software alerts educators when students write certain words, essentially painting a picture of the student’s well-being. This is helpful for incidents on and off campus. EdScoop provides the following example; “if students express the desire to harm themselves, these individuals can be contacted by trained staff who know the appropriate way to intervene.” Although this tool is helpful, and social media is often viewed by the public, schools are encouraged to use discretion.
- Cyber Security Updates
As mentioned above, school districts are often targeted by hackers because they tend to have weaker networks. There are things school administrators can do to prevent this from happening. Consider the following school safety cybersecurity tips from EdScoop:
- Educate staff, parents, and students on the dangers of cybersecurity threats
- Implement strong password policies
- Always make sure school software is up-to-date
- Stay current on trends in cybersecurity
- On-Campus Surveillance
Surveillance technology on school campuses gives administrators the ability to look out for suspicious behaviors and efficiently react to dangerous situations. According to Gizmodo, “schools are spending millions to outfit their campuses with some of the most advanced surveillance technology available.” With school safety being the priority, many schools are pushing to install cameras in hallways and other technologies like anonymous tip software to prevent dangerous incidents from occurring.
With impending threats on the rise for K-12 schools across the United States, preparedness is key. That’s why it’s so important to implement and share some kind of school safety plan with your school community, using the above tips as a guide.