12 Things Principals Can Do
Help stop school violence with this starter list of ideas. Some
require only individual action; some require concerted effort. Some
address immediate issues; others address the problems that cause
violence. Consider this list a launching pad—there's lots more that
can be done. Check the resource
section for places to contact for more ideas and help in carrying
[more help working
with law enforcement]
- Establish "zero tolerance" policies for weapons and
violence. Spell out penalties in advance. Adopt the motto "If
it's illegal outside school, it's illegal inside." Educate
students, parents, and staff on policies and penalties. Include a
way for students to report crime-related information that does not
expose them to retaliation.
- Establish a faculty-student-staff committee to develop a Safe
School Plan. Invite law enforcement officers to be part of your
team. Policies and procedures for both day-to-day operations and
crisis handling should cover such subjects as identifying who
belongs in the building, avoiding accidents and incidents in
corridors and on school grounds, reporting weapons or concerns about
them, working in partnership with police, following up to ensure
that troubled students get help.
- Work with juvenile justice authorities and law enforcement
officers on how violence, threats, potentially violent situations,
and other crimes will be handled. Meet regularly to review problems
and concerns. Develop a memorandum of understanding with law
enforcement on access to the school building, reporting of crimes,
arrests, and other key issues.
- Offer training in anger management, stress relief, mediation, and
related violence prevention skills to staff and teachers. Help them
identify ways to pass these skills along to students. Make sure
students are getting training.
- Involve every group within the school community—faculty,
professional staff, custodial staff, students, and others—in
setting up solutions to violence. Keep lines of communication open
to all kinds of student groups and cliques.
- Develop ways to make it easier for parents to be involved in the
lives of their students. Provide lists of volunteer opportunities;
ask parents to organize phone trees; hold events on weekends as well
as week nights. Offer child care for younger children.
- Work with community groups and law enforcement to create safe
corridors for travel to and from school; even older students will
stay home rather than face a bully or some other threat of violence.
Help with efforts to identify and eliminate neighborhood trouble
- Reward good behavior. Acknowledging students who do the right
thing, whether it's settling an argument without violence or helping
another student or apologizing for bumping into someone helps raise
the tone for the whole school.
- Insist that your faculty and staff treat each other and students
the way they want to be treated—with respect, courtesy, and
thoughtfulness. Be the chief role model.
- Develop and sustain a network with health care, mental health,
counseling, and social work resources in your community. Make sure
that teachers, counselors, coaches, and other adults in the school
know how to connect a needy student with available resources.
- Ensure that students learn violence prevention techniques
throughout their school experience. Don't make it a one-time thing.
Infuse the training into an array of subjects. Draw from
established, tested curricula whenever possible.
- Consider establishing such policies as mandatory storage of
outerwear in lockers (to reduce chances of weapons concealment),
mesh or clear backpacks and duffle bags (to increase visibility of
contraband); and limited entry access to the building (to reduce