How Safe Is Your Child's School?

The recent violence that has exploded in classrooms, cafeterias and gymnasiums across the nation probably has you concerned. Now is the time to ask officials at your child's school, "Will my child be safe?"

In our book, Parenting 911, we give parents a checklist of safety items that can serve as a starting point for your evaluation. Here are some things to consider:

How tight is security? There should be a minimal number of entrances and exits. Schools should require visitors to sign in, and control access to parking lots, gyms and other buildings. Some schools actually lock their buildings during lunch to prevent strangers from wandering in.

Does the school record and track crime? Rather than burying these statistics, compiling them helps school officials understand what crimes are being committed when and by whom. Knowing that, the school can devise strategies to combat crime.

Is there an emergency communications center? This network should link classrooms and schoolyard supervisors with the front office or security staff, as well as with local law enforcement agencies. Detention classrooms should have emergency buzzers.

Have all posters been removed from windows? There should be an unobstructed view into each classroom and hallway.

Do students and teachers have identification cards? Those without cards should receive visitor badges.

Is a dress code enforced? Any gang-related clothing should be prohibited.

Is there a peer mediation program?

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