It’s hard not to get emotional when I talk about school safety with my eldest. Shooters are not something our generation had to think about as small children, and I know I’m not alone in being scared for him. He needs to be prepared, but I don’t want to make him feel like school is a dangerous place.
Michelle Gay of Safe and Sound Schools and Amanda Klinger from Educator’s School Safety Network offer sound advice. Focus on the positive—not “these are dangerous situations” but “these are the places and people in school who are safe.” Similarly, focusing on explaining the specific terrifying threats isn’t necessary, because skills like listening to the teacher and keeping quiet apply in many different situations.
Repetition and age-appropriate play helps too. Remember in your talks with your child that which dangers you focus on depend on your specific situation, and intruders are a very very small part of that. In the end, school safety skills are life skills just like knowing to look both ways when crossing the street, and if we think of them that way, they’re much less scary.
—Focus on the positives and talk about ways to stay safe.
—School safety includes plans for fire, earthquakes, and tornadoes—not just intruders.
—School safety skills are everyday life skills.