LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Kentucky Safe Schools Week aims to light the way for schools to promote and enhance school safety through targeted activities and discussions.
School safety goes beyond preventing a school shooting.
In 2019, the School Safety and Resiliency Act was passed.
Its goal is to lay out several different mandates schools have to follow to keep kids safe.
According to the Office of the State School Security Marshall, Ben Wilcox, and their 2022-2023 report, there are a number of different areas schools need to be on top of to ensure safety.
This includes requiring check-ins for visitors in the front office, keeping classroom doors closed during class, placing security cameras in the main entrance, and much more.
In addition, Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law a requirement that every public school in Kentucky has a certified school resource officer in the building.
The report indicates that 57% of schools are in compliance and while it may seem low, Wilcox is encouraged by the numbers he’s seeing.
“We’re in better places than others in some different ways but is as a whole for the state of Kentucky,” Wilcox explained. “We’re in a really good spot with school safety because the mandates that have been set forth and the fact our schools are doing such a good job following those mandates. So, I think one of the biggest issues is making sure that once we have these mandates, they’re followed and then the schools are constantly reminded that they need to follow these mandates. Students are concerned about it, and parents are constantly reminded that these mandates are there and they’re there for that particular reason.”
Another benchmark schools must reach pertains to student’s mental health.
The Resiliency Act requires at least one adult who has a meaningful connection with each student, which Wilcox cites as a major preventive measure for ensuring school safety.
Students are in school roughly 15% of the entire year which is a lot of time when you break down every second of a kid’s year.
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In Kentucky’s public schools, there’s a roughly 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, furthering the point that students dictate the culture in their school.
The purpose of Safe Schools Week for students is broken down into four parts.
- If a student sees something, don’t be afraid to say something.
- Promoting situational awareness, making sure a student knows what’s going on around them.
- Encouraging students to be good cyber citizens, creating safe spaces online for them and their classmates.
- Being kind and practicing the golden rule.
Jon Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, said that just being kind it circumvents the metal detectors and book bag checks, and makes the overall school environment better.
For faculty, having relationships with students will ensure everyone buys in to keeping our schools safe.
“What happens outside the floor walls outside the school greatly affects what comes on into the school,” Akers explained. “So, when we have a standard of behavior that’s acceptable for everyone, that helps out and students can be a part of. Kids know right from wrong. They know if they’re looking over their shoulder that they shouldn’t be doing something.”
Akers also stresses the role parents play in stressing the importance of being kind and being respectful, so they can transfer it to when they’re in school.
During Kentucky Safe Schools week, students are encouraged to take the Safe Schools Pledge to ensure they’re doing their part in keeping school safe.
You can also file an anonymous report here, to report suspicious behavior at your school.
You can also call the 24/7 hotline to report a tip, that number is 866-393-6659.