School Safety and Bullying

School Safety

School leaders are ultimately responsible for creating a safe and secure learning environment. While some districts have policies and strategies in place that address crisis situations, immediate policy must be developed to ensure that all schools are prepared in case of emergency.

In February 2013, AFSA invited David Esquith, Director, Office of Safe and Healthy Students for the U.S. Department of Education to meet with the Officers and General Executive Board. Mr. Esquith discussed the education related components of President Obama’s “Now Is The Time (NITT)” plan to protect children and communities by reducing gun violence.

Mr. Esquith reviewed the four major goals of the plan for education, which include: 1) Ensuring every school and institution of higher learning has a comprehensive emergency management plan; 2) Creating a safe and positive climate at schools across the country; 3) Making sure students and young adults get treatment for mental health issues; 4) Ensuring schools are safe.

AFSA is pleased with the Department of Education’s focus on school safety, and is working with the Department to offer AFSA members a webinar training to cover the key elements involved in comprehensive, all-hazards school emergency management planning with an emphasis on school culture and climate. The webinar will help explain the components and process of school emergency management planning, and will provide members with basic information designed to help individual schools and school districts learn more about how comprehensive, all-hazards plans are developed, implemented, and maintained, with an emphasis on school culture and climate.

AFSA is also pleased the Senate is moving forward on the issue of gun control, and especially thankful for the focus on School Safety by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who is the sponsor of S.146, the School and Campus Safety Enhancements Act. The measure would authorize grants to assist school districts and local law enforcement agencies develop and implement individualized and effective means of improving school safety. The measure has recently been added to the Senate Calendar.

AFSA commends the Senator for her understanding the urgent need of school safety, and will work to facilitate this important measure’s swift passage.

Bullying

Bullying of children and young adults is a serious problem across the nation.  Educators, parents, students and community members are becoming increasingly aware of this national problem.

School administrators work daily to provide a safe and secure environment for all students and staff. That is why AFSA is proud to join with The BULLY Project, a social action campaign and movement inspired by the film BULLY designed to put an end to bullying, and its 1 Million Kids initiative.

Every 7 minutes a child is bullied on school grounds; 85 percent of the time no one intervenes. The 1 Million Kids initiative provides young people access to the film BULLY in a communal environment as part of an immersive experience that includes pre- and post—screening discussion with a trained facilitator.  The goal is to help kids reframe their thinking on the culture of bullying and empower them to stand up for the more than thirteen million kids who are bullied each year.

In close collaboration with national and regional organizations, the campaign will harness the power of this remarkable film to highlight the need for expanding proven social learning programs, curriculum development and tangible measures to prevent bullying. Together, we can address the root causes of bullying and lay groundwork for social transformation.

Just last fall, AFSA’s partnership with The Bully Project helped enable 14,000 students from the Oakland Unified School District see the move Bully.

AFSA is also a member of the National Safe Schools Partnership (NSSP), an informal coalition of over 100 organizations consisting of leading national education, health, civil rights, youth development and other organizations committed to ensuring that America’s schools are safe for all children. To that end, members of NSSP have joined together to support policy recommendations based on concrete research and experience, and federal legislation that will comprehensively address the issues of bullying and harassment.

Most recently, the Safe Schools Improvement Act was reintroduced in the House (H.R. 1199 by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA)) and in the Senate (S.403 by Robert Casey (D-PA)).

SSIA would require schools to have bullying prevention policies that protect every student in schools, including the most vulnerable. These are proven policies that help students, and help school leaders provide a safe and secure learning environment for all.

AFSA has endorsed this important legislation, and is working to urge members of Congress to support and cosponsor the bill.