How to Talk With Your Child About Safety at School
With school shootings and bullying situations making news headlines on a frequent basis, it’s sometimes hard to know how to talk to children about safety at school. The one thing parents shouldn’t do is ignore talking about these subjects. While it may be hard to have conversations with your children, they need to know they can discuss tough issues with parents and other adults. Here are a few guidelines for talking with students of any age about safety.
Don’t Minimize Your Child’s Concerns
Listen to your children’s feelings and fears, and let them know it’s a normal reaction to have concerns.
“Parents should acknowledge to children that bad things do happen, but also reassure them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers, and local police,” says the American Psychological Association in a recent article.
Some children may have questions about the role of faith and a loving God in the face of violent events and death of children. Many private Christian schools seek to create an environment where students can feel safe asking tough questions.
Remind Them Safety Measures are in Place
Elementary age children need reassurance that adults are there to protect them at school and home. Give simple examples of safety measures that are in place, such as exterior doors being locked, staff being outside during morning arrival and playground time, and emergency drills.
Emphasize how middle and high school students can help maintain safe schools by following guidelines, such as reporting strangers on campus or threats to safety made by other students.
See how one school in Florida, Indian Rocks Christian School, is keeping students safe on campus with screening, a security team, and surveillance technology.
Make a Safety Plan
Help students identify at least one person at school they could go to if they feel threatened or at risk. This could be a teacher, coach, librarian, counselor, office staff, or administrator. For older children, make sure your child knows how to reach you or another family member during the day if a crisis does arise.
Limit Exposure to News and Social Media Coverage
Younger children can easily become anxious or confused by news coverage of events. In fact, studies show some younger children think a violent event is happening again each time it is replayed on television. For older children, you should monitor what they are viewing online about the event.
Explain the Difference in Possibility and Probability
Middle school and high school students should know that while a school shooting is possible anywhere, the probability of such an event is low. There is an average of about one school shooting with multiple victims each year, a number that is actually decreasing since a rate of four multiple-victim shootings in schools in 1998, according to a 2018 article by NPR.
Listen Calmly to Bullying Concerns
Many children are afraid to report bullying for a number of reasons, including:
- They believe it’s their own fault.
- They are afraid adults will not believe them or do anything.
- They fear the bullying will escalate if they report it.
- They are afraid their parents will be upset or disappointed.
If your student lets you know they are being bullied, praise them for telling you, listen calmly to everything they have to say, and reassure them you will work together to address it. Follow through by making sure either they or you report it to someone at their school.
Many schools have specific bullying policies in place. Indian Rocks Christian School in Largo, Florida, has resources in place to both prevent and respond to bullying. Learn more about how the school is uniting against bullying.
Signs Your Child is Under Stress
While talking with a parent or other trusted adult is the first step to resolving a bullying situation or helping to calm stress about news headlines, some children may need continued help or counseling. If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms, seek out help from a school counselor or your family physician.
- Change is school performance
- Refusal to go to school
- Headaches or stomaches
Indian Rocks Christian School Takes Safety Seriously
If you’re looking for a private, Christian school that takes physical, emotional, and spiritual safety seriously, explore Indian Rocks Christian School. We have safety measures in place for all students, from preschool through grade 12.
Discover our safety measures as well as our welcoming culture and excellent academics on a school tour by calling our Enrollment Office at 727-593-8740 or by emailing IRCS-Admissions@indianrocks.org.