Continued Safety During The School Year

As time goes on and we settle into the new school year, it can be easy to fall into a routine and potentially become complacent. Being at a heightened state of awareness shouldn't only happen in the first few weeks of the school year, but rather continue throughout the year.

This week, we have a blog about staying alert and how to remain safe after the excitement of the new school year wears off.

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Be A Friend

Through social media, it's easy to get a false sense of someone's overall wellness. We've gotten used to communicating with someone through a screen, and that may be inhibiting us from knowing what's really going on in someone's life. Active assailants at schools are historically current or past students, and many people report that they aren't surprised that that specific person committed those acts based on behaviors that they had been noticing prior to the event. If you're noticing something going on with a student, you can make such a difference by being a good friend, or knowing who to talk to about a student or classmate changing their behaviors.  Taking the power into your hands can change the course of events just by showing someone that you care.

Active Planning

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Active planning is your "if this, then that" response plan. If violence happens, being prepared buys you precious reaction time instead of needing to scramble to figure out what to do in the situation. Active planning can help you be more responsive and respond more appropriately when your life is at risk. There are four parts of active planning: Functional Fitness, Skill Set, your Environment, and Law Enforcement Response Time.  These combine to create a plan based on your specific ability to perform any of the response options (escaping, hiding or defending yourself) during an attack.

Functional fitness measures how capable your body is to do any one of the response options. For example, if you're a runner, you'll be great at escaping, whereas someone who lifts weights may be better suited if needing to physically defend against the attacker. It also includes what you're wearing, how you're feeling, if you have any injuries, and more.

Your skill set is what you've done to supplement your functional fitness such as barricading, improvised weapons, self-defense classes and more. They enhance your ability to respond. Your environment looks at what is around you that may help or hurt your response. Think about the rooms that may be easily barricaded or where you may be able to escape to. Pay attention to the floor you're on as it may determine if and how you can escape from the building.

Assessing your Law Enforcement response time is important to understand how long it's going to take for the good guys to get there. How long do you need to hold off before support arrives? Knowing that information can help keep you prepared and having accurate expectations going into the situation.

Continuously assessing your plan and adjusting for your current realities throughout the day and the entire school year is a vital part of school safety.

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Understand Situational Awareness

As one of the biggest pieces of being prepared for the potential of violence, understanding situational awareness is essential. Ask the question, "what should cause me to increase my awareness?"

As we transition out of School Safety September, it's important to address the inhibitors of situational awareness, and their effect on safety throughout the school year. There are 3 major inhibitors: Distractions, Obstructions, and Normalcy Bias.

Distractions include those handy cell phones! Cell phones are pulling people's attention away from what's going on around them, so you may not notice if someone is acting suspiciously. Having headphones in and listening to music also can cause a distraction by limiting your auditory abilities.

Obstructions are physical things in your environment that prevent you from seeing or hearing something that may be threatening. In school, examples include corners in hallways and closed classroom doors. Learning how to deal with these obstructions can help greatly. One way to handle a corner, for example, is to walk wider instead of tightly against the wall. This will allow you some more reaction time to act accordingly.

Normalcy Bias is summed up by rationalizing danger as something that makes more sense to your current worldview and past experiences. For example, hearing gunfire and assuming it is construction outside or the fire alarm going off and automatically beginning to evacuate instead of pausing to assess whether it is truly a drill.

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Keep Watch

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There are many online tools and apps out there that allow parents to have eyes into essentially all areas of your kid’s phone, from their physical location to social media, text messages and more. The best use of this technology is to become more aware of social media bullying, online predators, or any other risky behavior that your child may be exposed to through their cell phones.

One of our favorite apps to use is mSpy - an app that enables you to see everything your child is doing on their phone from contacts to call logs, including Snapchat.

Stay Alert

It's always important for you and your children to remain alert throughout the school year. Simply asking your child questions about their day, knowing who their friends are and where they are throughout the day can all be important ways to keep them safe.

Make sure that your child knows who to talk to at school if they notice something out of place, and help them understand that remaining alert throughout the school year can save lives.

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