I help police officers to positively interact with students and principals to make their schools safer. That means I teach a little bit of everything from mentoring students to equipping schools how to filter out unwanted and violent behaviors. School safety is of course a topic that I’m asked to speak most about, but I’d like to touch on everything that I think is important. Since climate, academic success, and school safety are interconnected, pretty much every topic is related to school safety in some way.
For example, I may post an article about real-life ways to praise kids without being all mushy. Something near and dear to my heart. At first, you may think this has nothing to do with school safety but here’s how it breaks down.
1. I post an article about ways to praise kids.
2. You read it and like some of the ideas so you decide to give it a try.
3. You see an opportunity to praise, so you go for it and praise a student.
4. It works. The kid beams with happiness, you swell with pride.
(Here’s where the school safety part comes into it)
5. The kids know you care.
In that moment of positive personal contact, you not only help to enhance the student’s self-worth but you also prove in a very real and concrete way that you are paying attention and that the student really does matter to you. After all, you’ve taken a moment out of your busy day to say so. In 75% of the school attacks, a student has known about it prior to the act of violence (I personally think it’s 100%). If you’ve worked to develop a personal relationship with your students, through praise and other efforts, the students are much more likely to come to you if they hear about someone planning to hurt themselves or someone else. They know you, you know them, and most importantly–they know you care!
The closer the relationships between adults and students, the safer the school. This is how praising also helps schools to be safer.