School Violence and What Constitutes a Safe School

What does it mean to feel safe in school? It is easier to say what makes school feel unsafe: physical abuse and violence, verbal taunting, ridicule, threats, spreading rumors, and humiliation, all of which can now take place more publically and to a much wider degree, thanks to modern technology. Cell phones, texting, YouTube and Facebook now allow us to torment each other instantly worldwide. Most students have been both perpetrator and victim to some degree of these behaviors in the course of their school careers. So we all are capable of making someone else miserable and know what it feels like to have it done to us. When students don’t feel safe in the school environment, classroom, lunch room, playground, corridors, restrooms, stairwells, after school waiting for the bus or on the public transportation home, they can’t fully engage in learning. They are either preoccupied with an earlier incident or thinking about how to avoid a future perceived torment. By the way, students report that clear plastic backpacks, metal detectors and armed guards in school do not make them feel safer. They feel like prisoners in their own school…

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