Six Tips for a Safer School

As students head back to the classroom, a leading school security expert reminds parents of school-age children they can play an important role in helping assure prevention measures are implemented in their child's school. Patrick Fiel, former security chief for Washington, D.C. schools and now a school safety expert for ADT Security Services, said parents can be as influential as school board members, superintendents, principals and teachers in helping prevent violence in schools.

"Parents, who are also taxpayers and voters, have the power to effect change if they are willing to become involved both individually and collectively," he said. "All members of the education community -- including parents -- need to be involved in helping provide a safe and secure environment where children can learn without fear."

To help parents become more involved in securing school campuses, Fiel has a list of six steps they can follow.

1. Talk to your children about school security. Kids are very tuned into what happens on their campuses. They know where there are weak spots in the security plans. Ask them about the security drills or other emergency procedures in place at their school. Also talk to them about resolving conflicts in a peaceful, nonviolent manner and about immediately reporting to school officials any threatening talk or behavior from other students.

2. Visit your child's campus and talk with an administrator about the security plan. Among other things, find out how visitors can enter the campus. Ask if the doors are regularly locked. Check to see if the campus has cameras monitoring entries, hallways and common areas. Ask if the school has a plan in place for handling an armed person on campus.

3. Educate yourself on the plans, procedures and technologies working well at other schools. Contact the National Crime Prevention Council http://www.ncpc.org for a copy of the Caregivers' Guide to Safety and Security and School Safety and Security Toolkit: A Guide for Parents, Schools and Communities.

4. Get to know the law enforcement officials assigned to your child's school. Find out when they are on campus and what their responsibilities include. If your child's school does not have a regularly assigned law enforcement official, work with the school to make that happen.

5. Join other parents who may also be concerned about the security of their children. Become involved in the PTA or PTO and start a security committee if one does not already exist. Ask school officials to meet regularly with the group and report on security/safety incidents and continuing plans to keep the campus safe. Be an active participant by asking questions.

6. Do not keep firearms easily accessible in your home. If you have weapons in your house make sure that they are kept locked and secured. Report a missing or stolen firearm to police immediately. Teach children respect for the devastation that can occur when weapons get into the wrong hands or are used improperly.

"School administrators and teachers cannot be expected to solve the problems of school violence alone," said Fiel. "Parents have to share the burden. By talking with their children, keeping informed, working with other parents, school administrators and law enforcement officials, parents can play a vital role in keeping their children safe at school."

More information about the security solutions ADT provides for schools is available by visiting http://www.adt.com. ADT also offers a free school security assessment by calling (877) 258-6421

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