School Safety Post-Election: Dealing with Hate speech and bullying

School Safety Post Election: Dealing with Hate Speech and Bullying

The last few weeks have been very difficult for the United States as a nation. In the aftermath of the election it is easy for some to feel alienated no matter who you voted (or did not vote) for. It is important to remember that this same effect can easily affect our children and the school environment, particularly when it comes to hate speech. It is critical now more than ever that we maintain our schools as a safe haven for all students and staff. There is and has always been an interdependence between safety, school climate and academic achievement. It is very difficult to excel in any one of these areas without the others.

[Related: Ask Safe Havens: How safety affects school climate and academic achievement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgWdkOYlJCE ]

Various organizations are now reporting skyrocketing numbers of incidents of harassment, hate speech and hate-based vandalism across the country. As of this writing there have been hundreds of reported incidents to the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Anti-Defamation League. During these times we should remember the following fundamentals:

  • Review your policies on bullying, harassment and hate speech, and update as needed.
  • Be prepared to respond to reported incidents seriously by following appropriate procedures
  • Make students aware of proper avenues for dealing with harassment, hate speech and bullying.
  • Remember your security basics: access control, visitor management and supervision. Many incidents affecting schools, internal or external, can be prevented or mitigated through these basic measures.

Look for more detailed discussion on ways to address these concerns in our upcoming issue of School Safety Monthly.

Some additional resources for handling hate speech:

The Anti-Defamation League has an incident reporting form as well as resources for handling incidents of hate speech and harassment: http://adl.org/

The Ad Council has a series of videos that could be used to engage in positive discussion about these topics:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adcouncil

Campus Concealed Carry Laws and Colleges

Campus Concealed Carry & Safe Schools

Several states recently passed legislation related to campus concealed carry. In one form or another, these laws allow students and campus employees with a concealed firearm permit to carry a gun on campus. These laws caused considerable concern among some. There are questions about good Samaritan laws and how those would apply. There are dire predictions about tragic events that would occur, and equally dire predictions about what would happen if we not allow concealed carry on campuses. Quite simply, the predicted chaos and carnage has not occurred.

I generally take a middle-of-the-road stance on this highly emotional topic for some very pragmatic reasons. On one hand, there have been several campus shootings that have been stopped by citizens with guns: a high school dance shooting in Edenborough, Pennsylvania, a potential shooting at a university sorority dance Macon, Georgia, and the high school shooting in Pearl, Mississippi, to name a few. At the same time, I am not convinced that campus concealed carry would impact the overall numbers of shootings and victims that take place each year in educational facilities.

A Shift in Public Thinking on Campus Concealed Carry

The pressure to allow concealed carry will increase significantly if we continue to see mass casualty attacks with firearms and edged weapons by terrorists. This will be even more true if there are any more attacks on K12 and higher education targets. Educators in other countries like Israel, Thailand and Kenya are allowed to carry firearms as a response to school terrorism. We may see this evolve into a bigger discussion in the United States as well.

Focusing on active shooter incidents can leave us unprepared for everyday events, particularly when it comes to campus concealed carry as a preparedness tactic.

Focusing on active shooter incidents can leave us unprepared for everyday events, particularly when it comes to campus concealed carry as a preparedness tactic.

My primary concern a bit different than those often highlighted in media stories. I am concerned about the focus on extremely rare events like active shooter and active killer incidents. These types of risks are easy to focus on because they are so tragic when they do occur. I worry that people who carry a gun will train with a focus on neutralizing an active shooter. Their mental space is thus focused on an event that is statistically unlikely.

The More Likely Scenario

In reality, school staff will probably face a split-second use of force decision for a more mundane event. An intoxicated person waving a knife or an act of interpersonal violence will happen much more frequently. In schools, an active shooter situation is statistically less likely than many other situations that might prompt a use of force. Anyone who carries a gun for self-defense should be fully prepared to make the decision to take a human life – and not just in extreme situations.

Additional information on Campus Concealed Carry:

Free School Safety, Security and Terrorism Conference in Indiana

Next week I am presenting at a one-day school safety and school terrorism conference that is free of charge for public safety officials and educators. The Indiana Public Safety Summit will be held at the Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis, Indiana on Thursday, August 12th, 2016.   Lt. Col. Dave Grossman will also be presenting at the same conference. Dave is a powerful presenter and it will be good to have the opportunity to hear him present again. I always learn some new things when I get to hear Dave Grossman present. Please forward this to anyone who you think might benefit from this opportunity to attend a school safety conference at no charge. Attendees seeking law enforcement credit hours can pay a fee of $100.00 per department for 8 hours of accredited training. This fee is per agency, with no limit on the number of attendees from each agency, and there is no charge unless you are seeking credit hours.

To register, visit http://www.ourkidsdeserveit.org/

 

Our Kids Deserve It school safety conference image

Our Kids Deserve It school safety Conference – August 12, 2016