The Enterprise Editorial of 4/21 correctly states that school security requires vigilance from all parties-parents, educators and children. However, the editorial falls short because it does not recognize or address what the best practices are for dealing with school violence. The best practices are those put forth by the US Department of Education and the National Association of School Psychologists and they include a proactive violence prevention policy.
Schools with the best practices focus on prevention, have early access to effective behavior support, and have proactive policies that prohibit all forms of harrassment, intimidation and bullying by students and school personnel alike. Schools with successful discipline systems have administrators who acknowledge that students need good role models and a positive not punitive school environment. They also recognize that students have a fundamental right to be safe from violence at school the same way that adults have a fundamental right to be safe from violence in the workplace. Nonviolence is the absolute standard at these schools and educators don't compromise their professionalism by hitting students.
These effective schools offer the services of social workers, psychologists and adult mentors and implement proactive programs such as the Community of Caring Program; Positive Adolescent Choices Training; Project ACHIEVE; and Promoting Positive Thinking Strategies.
Clear backpacks and frequent locker searches may stop some problems from happening, but they don't get at the root cause of school violence. Students need adult role models whose behavior is worthy of emulation and environments which foster personal excellence. When we can provide these, and offer the best (research-based) practices for violence prevention, we can be confident that we are doing all we can to address the issue of school security.
Isabelle Allgood Neal
Board Member, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education
Beaumont, TX 77706
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