With yet another school shooting yesterday, it’s not surprising that parents are wondering how to keep kids safe at school. It’s the place that many of our children spend a huge amount of time away from us. Nothing is more terrifying than realizing that your child is in danger and you can’t do anything about it. So, how can you keep kids safe?
10 Ways to Keep Kids Safe at School
Scary as it may be to discuss this with your child, they already know that there are dangers in the world and it’s best to prepare them for the potential of a school shooting.
1. Talk to the School
Find out what your school’s policy is in an active shooter situation and reinforce those policies at home. The school should have precise steps to prevent a shooting situation, but also a plan for handling it. Being prepared is the first step to keeping kids safe. If the school doesn’t have a good, solid plan in place, you may want to band with other parents to figure out a better way to handle things.
2. Teach Them the Correct Protocol
Experts recommend the “run, hide, fight” protocol, which can be used depending on the situation. Practice with your child to learn which option is best for the actual situation. For example, running away and distancing themselves from the shooter should be the first option . . . if they can do so safely. Hiding is best for when the shooter is near or it could be dangerous to leave the area, due to sight lines. Finally, if the shooter is right there, fighting back could be the best chance of survival.
3. Learn to Hide
If the shooter is close by, your child will need to hide. Do they know the best way to do this? Younger children may have difficulty staying quiet, so practicing this is a good idea. Other considerations when hiding:
- Look for a space with thick walls
- Choose a spot with few or no windows
- Turn OFF your phone’s sound and vibrate
- Lock the door if possible
- Barricade entrances with furniture
Running from an active shooter situation is a good plan, if your child is far enough away to do so safely. It’s a good idea to teach them how to run, though. A zig zag pattern will make it more difficult for the shooter to hit the target, so practice running crookedly with your kids.
Students should also know that they need to keep their hands visible for the police, who will assume anyone could be a suspect. Teach them to drop any and all belongings . . . getting away is the highest priority and they can always get their backpack later.
5. Give Your Child a Phone
In today’s world, a cell phone is a must have for any teen in school. Even if you’re not really for a phone, it’s important to give your child a way to communicate with the outside world. If there is an active shooter in their school, they need to be able to report it and call in their location and status. That being said, it’s recommended that you NOT call your child during an active shooting situation. As scary as that may be, if they’ve forgotten to turn off their sound and you call, it could give away their position to the shooter. Tell your kids to call as soon as they are safely able to do so in a bad situation.
6. Take Self-Defense Classes
Any kid can benefit from taking self-defense classes. While you don’t want them to fight, if it comes down to fighting or dying, your child should be able to defend themselves. These classes are invaluable in many situations, so highly worth the effort. Look for a class that teaches defense in different types of situations.
7. Plan Escape Routes
Have your child assess their classroom and school to determine the best possible way to get out if there is a shooting. It’s tough to keep kids safe in this sort of situation, but having a plan, apart from the one the school implements, can increase their chances of survival. The plan should include alternate routes, how to safely break a window, and where to go once out of the school. If you can arrange a meeting spot outside the school, you’ll know where to find your child if there is an incident.
8. Encourage Talking
Sometimes, kids know who is most likely to become a shooter. They might notice suspicious behavior or read something disturbing on social media. Any mention of violence against students or teachers should be reported and other students are usually the best people to do that. You can help keep kids safe by talking with your own children and discussing their responsibilities to mention anything that could pose a threat.
9. Learn What Gunshots Sound Like
In school shootings, kids often report that they heard weird popping sounds or thought someone was setting off firecrackers. Listen to actual gunshots online, from an assortment of guns and tell kids to assume any popping noises are actually gunshots. It’s better to look silly than to lose your life because you weren’t sure.
10. Keep an Eye on Social Media
School shooters sometimes make disturbing posts online before they actually do anything. While we can wait for our kids to notice something, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on social media yourself. Watch for suspicious behavior and photos. If you see something, report it to the authorities. They can check into the situation and potentially stop a school shooting before it happens.
There is no sure-fire way to keep kids safe at school, unfortunately, but you can definitely prepare them. Kids these days know that there is a possibility of dying if they go to school. It’s a scary thing for a child and even a teenager to deal with, but as a mom, you can help them be as prepared as possible.
You can learn more about the official school shooting protocol here.