School Safety Tips

The National Crime Prevention Council offers tips and resources for students, parents, and teachers to help keep America's schools safe.

Although many schools are safe, others can be just as susceptible to crime and violence as other environments. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 17 children and teens were killed at school and five children killed themselves in the year ending June 30, 2002.

Moreover, in a 2001 survey by the National School Safety Center (NSSC), more than 60 percent of high school boys and 15 percent of middle school boys said they could get a gun if they wanted to. At the same time, 69 percent of high school and 27 percent of middle school boys said they knew how to get drugs. Thirty percent of the kids reported being bullied. In what could be an ominous precursor to adult behavior, nearly a quarter of the students in another 2001 survey published by NSSC reported that they knew at least one student at their school who had been a victim of dating violence.

There are no easy answers to the disturbing questions these statistics raise, but it is clear that collaboration between parents, educators, law enforcement, and crime prevention practitioners is essential.

  • Enforce zero-tolerance policies toward the presence of weapons, alcohol, and illegal drugs.
  • Establish and enforce drug- and gun-free zones.
  • Establish policies that declare that anything that is illegal off campus is illegal on campus.
  • Engage students in maintaining a good learning environment by establishing a teen court.
  • Develop protocols between law enforcement and the school about ways to share information on at-risk youth.
  • Develop resource lists that provide referral services for students who are depressed or otherwise under stress.
  • Involve teens in designing and running programs such as mediation, mentoring, peer assistance, School Crime Watch, and graffiti removal programs.
  • Insist that all students put outerwear in their lockers during school hours.
  • Require all students to tuck in their shirts to keep them from hiding weapons.
  • Develop and enforce dress codes that ban gang-related and gang-style clothing.
  • Establish a policy of positive identification such as ID badges for administrators, staff, students, and visitors.
  • Deny students permission to leave school for lunch and other non-school-related activities during school hours.

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