Yesterday's school massacre in Texas was horrific, compelling us all to mourn and then consider how to keep our own children and school staff safe. In the last few months we've also been impacted by multiple incidents of gun violence here in the city of Concord near a number of our schools. Much of this needs to be addressed on a nationwide level with common sense policy on access to guns, however we all need to do our part. Cities like Concord should replicate what has worked in other cities, like the gun storage ordinance and free gun lock giveaway that the city of Dublin implemented. I'm thankful to our local Moms Demand Action leaders for sharing these best practices.
Here I want to share how you can find out what the Mt Diablo school district and school sites are doing to keep everyone safe, as well as what research shows is most effective in preventing violence on school grounds.
- Dr Clark sent out this list of resources to all families today, to help us all in discussing the tragic news from Texas. It also included a guide for school Administrators from the National Association of School Psychologists.
- To find out more about specifically what safety precautions and plans are in place at your school site, reach out to your principal or any member of your school site council. Every school site has a comprehensive school safety plan that is reviewed annually by the principal and school site council, which includes teachers, staff, parents and students.
- You can view every school safety plans here on the district website (however, there are redacted sections on these because they are publicly posted)
- These safety plans cover a wide range of potential emergencies to prepare for, and include an Active Shooter Quick Reference Guide
Our board approves these safety plans annually, but really depends on each local site council & team to tailor plans specifically to their site and make sure that a comprehensive team is well prepared. At our last board meeting, I requested that these plans get updated with the latest research on what works best to prevent violence in schools.
Here is a must-read research based document: How Can We Prevent Gun Violence in Schools It includes:
What We Know about Gun Violence in Schools:
- School shooters usually have a connection to the school
- Guns used by shooters under 18 usually come from home or a friend's home
- There are warning signs before an act of targeted school violence occurs
How Can We Prevent Gun Violence:
- Keep guns out of the wrong hands with laws on gun sales, safe gun storage, background checks and more
- School based interventions including:
- Create a safe and affirming school climate - community schools are recommended
- Identify students at risk to themselves or others via anonymous tip line and threat assessments
- Evidence based tool: University of Virginia’s Comprehensive Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG)
- Invest in school based mental health services
- Provide secure gun storage information to parents (MDUSD has done this regularly via the BeSMART program)
- Basic security measures like controlled access and interior door locks
What Safety Measures have been Harmful to Students:
- Arming teachers
- Over policing
- Active shooter drills, especially if unannounced & extreme
So, what can you do?
- Join or connect with your school site council & principal to learn more about your school safety plan
- Build strong relationships with students & families on your school campus
- Educate about safe gun storage: share out the BeSMART program with your PTA or school network
- Ask your city council to replicate Dublin's gun storage ordinance and free gun lock giveaway
- Advocate with Moms Demand Action for common sense gun legislation - text Ready to 644-33 or follow them on Facebook
And let me know how it's going.
To me as a mom, this is personal, and I believe that together we can make our schools & communities safer for everyone.