School is an environment that for some can be safe and friendly while for others it can be difficult and threatening. Whether there is a safety issue from lack of equipment and procedures or from out-of-control bullying, safety should always be top priority. So how do we make our schools safe?
When arriving at school, students need to be prepared and aware of traffic rules and regulations. They need to watch for cars and only cross where there are pedestrian crossings and when it is safe to do so. While travelling with school transport whether it is to and from school or on an outing, safety belts should always be worn.
Even the air at school (or anywhere) can be a danger to children. These problems often go unnoticed because they are difficult to see physically. For example, a mould problem in a building can seriously contaminate lungs and cause constant symptoms of colds, flu, asthma, and allergies. The products such as pesticides and chemicals used on grass or to kill weeds need to be used carefully and with precaution. Schools can either ensure that safety signs and boundaries are put into place or that they use eco-friendly, child proof chemicals.
Drinking water is an important issue in schools, especially in Africa. Diseases such as cholera can be carried in water and the drinking water at schools needs to be tested and made safe for children. Educating students about water can also be a chance to instil in them a respect for being environmentally friendly and not wasting important resources such as water.
Safety measures that schools need to implement in case of emergencies is having fire extinguishers, performing emergency evacuation practices and having signs and instructions in every classroom about what to do when these situations occur.
Speaking about relational issues such as bullying from an early age can discourage violent or aggressive behaviour in children and also teach them how to handle it if they are on the opposite end. Learning to handle conflict rationally and calmly can make a huge difference. Also, many children bully others as a result of their own problems; schools can help with this by being there for children emotionally and act as a support away from home.
Training children and schools to follow proper safety procedures will decrease the number of adults who do not know what to do or how to handle emergencies. Keeping children safe from toxins, diseases, bullying, and disasters is a responsibility that every school should take seriously. If we start young, we can make a huge difference!