Looking at today’s times where violence and unrest have become very common, it’s very natural for parents to worry about their child’s security when they step out of the comfort of their home. For a parent of a toddler, the first and foremost thing is to feel confident about the safety of your child when he or she is in school. If you are nervous and stressed about how your child’s going to be in school all the time, then there’s something you need to do about it.
So what all can a parent expect from the school when it comes to child safety. Being a parent, I ensured to not only speak with the school authorities before getting into the admission process, but we also made sure that we went and checked the school campus and their preparedness to take care of my little one.
Many schools boast of impeccable security arrangements like metal detectors, guards at every gate and corner of school, panic buttons, fire fighting and other emergency arrangements, etc. But as a parent, it isn’t easy to believe in all the safety proposals that are offered.
Hence, evaluating the school safety yourself and clarifying all your doubts with the school’s authorities at the beginning is the best bet. One could decide to do so while doing admission formalities, or in a school meeting, or even via written communication like emails. The most key point here is to not hesitate and ask everything you want to about your child’s safety when he or she is in the premises of the school.
In my case, I asked the school authorities, the following five questions that I expected the school to answer:
What are the security and crisis management or response steps that the school takes in case of a mishap like some intruder?
It is important to know the steps that the school would follow in case of some emergency or mishap. I also asked questions to assess the school’s actual level of preparedness in case of any violent occurrences. We also asked if the school was operating in close collaboration with the local police, fire station and other law enforcement agencies to deal with any emergency situations in an effective manner.
What are the various security arrangements inside and around the school building?
It was very important for me to know if the main gates were locked and have a secure access. I wanted to make sure that there was absolutely no chance for any stranger to wander inside the school premises. Even the doors that are used by the staff should be secured with ID card readers.
I checked with the administration about the arrival and dismissal process. It is important for teachers and staff to supervise the entrance and exit when the children get in the school and even when they go back.
A visitor check-in was another point that I checked. While I was getting in, I was happy to see that I was made to sign in and out and got a visitor badge and parents of the students who came to pick their children needed a Parent ID card to get in.
With the spurt of crimes these days, having CCTV cameras in all the classrooms, hallways, and other areas of the school building is also very important to check if there is any suspicious activity going on anywhere.
Is the school staff trained and capable enough to ensure the security of the children?
It’s important for the school staff to be properly trained to deal with any emergency situations like fire, any accident, any violent intruder getting in the premises, etc. If the safety and security of children is a high priority to the school, they make sure to provide various trainings to their staff and also educate and prepare the students through various drills and discussions.
Are there enough staff members to manage and monitor the huge premises?
I also enquired about how many staff members were assigned throughout various parts of the premises -- including the cafeterias, sports ground, parking lots, labs, washrooms, etc. More presence of staff members helps in avoiding and reducing any unusual behavior and mishaps. I also checked about the availability of substitution teachers and staff, who are needed to pitch in if any staff member is absent or on leave.
How’s the infrastructure of the school like the lighting arrangements, telephones and radios and walkie-talkies with the security and transport staff?
Another factor to evade any accidents or security threats is good infrastructure like proper lighting in the entrance and exits, well-lit hallways and other areas and also availability of enough number of intercoms, telephones and loudspeakers in all areas so that all the announcements could reach in every corner of the building. Shatterproof glasses covering the building is an added advantage that would give confidence to any parent regarding the safety of their child.
While physical security is of utmost importance, for me, psychological well-being also matters a lot. It’s a good idea to check if the school has any programs to prevent bullying and helps the children resolve conflicts. Mental health is very underrated at times, but it is very important for children to perform to their utmost potential.