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(844) 627-8267 | Info@NationalCyberSecurity

School safety experts discuss safety protocols | #schoolsaftey

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the new school year approaches, school districts in North Carolina are taking steps to increase safety measures. 

This comes in the wake of an increase in incidents involving student misconduct, crime and violence after COVID. Late summer is when districts finish up safety training for staff and reassess their safety plans.

Experts say that schools need to focus on more than just physical security measures and that they should also be training staff on how to identify and respond to potential threats.

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“We’re finding school districts with dozens, hundreds of pages of emergency plans that no one from the school custodian to the superintendent has a clue of what’s actually inside those plans,” Kenneth Trump, National School Safety and Security Services President, said. 

Trump said safety manuals and plans are critical to safety, but schools need to focus on training staff on how to identify and respond to potential threats, rather than just having a long list of procedures.

“When critical incidents happen, they unfold in seconds and minutes,” Trump said. “No one’s going to read a 100-page emergency plan. You have to train your school staff on improving situational awareness, recognizing abnormalities and patterns, things that aren’t normal day to day and then making cognitive decisions under stress.”

READ MORE: The push to add school resource officers in CMS elementary schools

Greg Vecchi, director of training at SafeDefend, said that schools should also be paying attention to student behavior. He said that if a child is acting out or seems to be in crisis, it’s important to talk to them and see if they need help.

“We can see a child or a student who’s in crisis, clearly, they’re not acting the same as they usually do,” Vecchi said. “And so we look at that and we teach what crisis behavior is. And you pull that kid aside, you say, ‘Hey, you know, it sounds like you’re really having a bad day, what’s going on?”

Millions of both state grants and local dollars have gone towards outward-facing safety measures like school resource officers, safety cameras and body scanners. Both safety experts warned against falling into a false fallacy of safety with these things in place. 

“Look beyond the shiny objects, the artificial weapons detection metal detectors, a fortified front entranceway, those visible things and see what’s beyond those secure doorways,” Trump said. “Make sure that staff are trained [and] that you have student’s mental health [and] social, emotional support.” 

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Vecchi also said districts need to look past what’s typically known as the obvious threats. 

“If you’re focused on the gun, you’re going to miss the knife and you’re going to miss the kid who is planning to run somebody over in the parking lot,” Vecchi said. 

Parents can also play a role in keeping their children safe at school. They can talk to their children about what to do in an emergency and they can be aware of their children’s behavior and watch for signs of trouble.

“This is your child, you have every right to know, ask the hard questions, find out what procedures there are, and if the procedures are not adequate, then take action,” Vecchi said. “Go to the school board, go to the superintendent, go to a Parent Teachers Association and go to your community, go to your police.”

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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