313 Chapanoke Road, Suite 140 • Raleigh, North Carolina 27603 (919) 773-2846 • 1-800-299-6054 • Fax (919) 773-2904 www.ncsu.edu/cpsv/ Dr. Pamela L. Riley, Executive Director
HOW TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN SAFE, ORDERLY, AND CARING SCHOOLS Safety, orderliness, and caring in schools today cannot be assumed but must instead be explicitly addressed. The Center for the Prevention of School Violence views the establishment and maintenance of these conditions in schools as essential in efforts directed at creating excellent schools. With these conditions present, students are given the opportunity to perform at their best academically, and teachers are provided with environments which allow them to perform at their best. A “safe school” is one whose physical features, layout and policies and procedures are designed to minimize the impact of disruptions and intrusions that might prevent the school from fulfilling its educational mission. It is characterized by a climate that is free of fear. The perceptions, feelings, and behaviors of members of the school community reveal that the school is a place where people are able to go about their business without concern for their safety. An “orderly school” is one characterized by a climate of mutual respect and responsibility. Students relate to each other and to teachers and school staff in acceptable ways. Expectations about what is acceptable behavior are clearly stated, and consequences for unacceptable behavior are known and applied when appropriate. Students and staff feel responsible for the successful operation of the school. A “caring school” is one which is inviting and supportive of students and staff. Students and staff are provided with opportunities to relate to each other in appropriate ways. The perceptions, feelings, and behaviors of members of the school community reveal that the school is a place where people are comfortable, feel welcome, and are able to be successful. The safety, orderliness, and caring found in any school overlap, but delineating them enables better understanding of what is necessary to establish and maintain these conditions in schools. In order to establish safety, orderliness, and caring, school officials should take several steps. They first should form a committee which consists of stakeholders from all perspectives, the community at-large, parents, school administration, teachers, and students. Involving all perspectives will enhance understanding and agreement about what needs to be done. Drawing upon the expertise which exists in the community, from law enforcement, for example, is of critical importance. Parental involvement enables the concerns of parents to be considered. Including all of the stakeholders from within the school helps bring to light the different experiences these stakeholders encounter on a daily basis. The first task of the committee is to set in motion the process of needs assessment with reference to current levels of safety, orderliness, and caring. From this initial assessment, the committee should
Center for the Prevention of School Violence
gain knowledge of what strengths and weaknesses exist with reference to safety, orderliness, and caring. From this knowledge, a safe school plan should be developed. This plan should be directed specifically at maximizing the school’ levels of safety, orderliness, and caring. The establishment s of baseline measures for safety, orderliness, and caring should be part of the plan. These measures should be standardized for all schools, but there should be additional school-specific measures to enhance the validity of the standardized measures. To address the safety of a school, attention should be focused upon the school’ physical features, s layout, and policies and procedures which are in place to handle daily activities as well as problems that may arise. The buildings and grounds of the school should be assessed. Access to...