Indicators of School Crime and Safety

Vol. 15 No. 6

trustees eletter vol15 no6 safety

Creating a “safe haven” for the students at your school is a major Board concern, and making sure all necessary protocols and policies for school safety are in place is a must.

With this in mind, consider the report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2015, released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics in May 2016. The indicators in this report are based on information drawn from various data sources, including national surveys of students, teachers, and principals.

This report covers topics such as victimization, teacher injury, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, and student perceptions of personal safety at school. Although the report focuses on public schools, the information is worthy of reflection for private-independent school Board members and administrators.

Bullying and cyber-bullying continue to be problematic. Findings in the NCES report (based on a School Crime Supplement survey in 2013) indicate that, for those students aged 12–18, 21.5% have been bullied at school. Girls appear to experience more bullying (23.7%) than boys (19.5%). About 27% of students who reported being cyber-bullied said that they were cyber-bullied at least once or twice a month during the school year; 8%, once or twice a week; and 4%, almost every day.

Unfortunately, “hazing” has become something of a tradition at many private-independent schools, and is often accepted or given a “blind eye” by faculty and school administrators. But, like any bullying or harassment, hazing can lead to severe legal (and thus financial) issues.

Recently, a disabled student claimed he was relentlessly bullied at a Missouri private school, and is now suing the school for at least $200,000 in damages. The suit alleges “bullying and harassment … was a culture of bullying at the school.” The parents also claim in the suit that school administrators knew of the bullying throughout the school year, but didn’t take steps to curtail the abuse. The suit alleges “negligent supervision.”

Don’t let this happen at your school. Bullying can be insidious, rotting a student body from the inside out. Obviously, it is important to have a clear bullying policy for students, faculty, and staff, as well as a comprehensive risk management plan that includes an action plan to handle bullying. Through proactive management in policy and the nurturing of trust and respect between adults and children, these toxic relationships can be effectively prevented to maintain a safe and secure learning environment for everyone.

Additional ISM resources:
Stopping Bullying: A Private-Independent School’s Responsibility
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 7 No. 8 The Bullying Epidemic
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 2 No. 2 Tips for Students: Managing Bullying

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 34 No. 5 Student Discipline, Policies, and Risks
I&P Vol. 36 No. 3 Addressing Bullying and Sexual Misconduct
I&P Vol. 41 No. 5 The Risk Management Assessment Process

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