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School Safety

When crime, drugs, and violence spill over from the streets into schools, providing a safe learning environment becomes increasingly difficult.  More students carry weapons. Gunfights replace fistfights. Many students must travel through dealer or gang turf.  Violence becomes an acceptable way to settle conflicts. When this happens, children cannot learn and teachers cannot teach.

Creating a safe place where children can learn and grow depends on a partnership among students, parents, teachers, and other community institutions.

To help prevent school violence

  • Find out how crime threatens schools in your community.
  • Take action to protect children.
  • Promote nonviolent ways to manage conflict.

How do these ideals translate into action? Here are some practical suggestions for young people, parents, school staff and others in the community.

Students

  • Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons.
  • Report crimes or suspicious activities to the police, school authorities, or parents.
  • Take safe routes to and from school and know good places to seek help.
  • Do not use alcohol or other drugs and stay away from places and people associated with them.
  • Get involved in your school’s anti-violence activities--have poster contests against violence, hold anti-drug rallies, and volunteer to counsel peers. If there are no programs, help start one.

Parents

  • Sharpen your parenting skills. Work with your children to emphasize and build their positive strengths.
  • Teach your children how to reduce their risk of being victims of crime.
  • Know where your kids are, what they are doing, and whom they are with at all times, no matter how old your child is.
  • Help your children learn nonviolent ways to handle frustrations, anger, and conflict.
  • Become involved in your child’s school activities, such as the PTA, field trips, and helping out in class or the lunchroom.

School Staff

  • Evaluate your school's safety objectively. Set targets for improvement.
  • Develop consistent disciplinary policies, good security procedures, and a response plan for emergencies.

Like all of you, employees of the Renton Police Department were shocked and devastated to hear of the school shooting in Newtown, CT.  Even with exposure to violent crimes as part of their daily lives in law enforcement, nothing could have prepared them for what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.

In their daily contacts with children, parents attempt to be open and trusting of young ones, and in return, children look to their parents for guidance and love every day. Sometimes parents fall short of that need from time to time, but can recover and try harder the next day. Unfortunately, the desire to be a good friend to children can conflict with being a good parent. It does not always work out to be both all of the time. It is up to parents and role models to teach children what to do when tragedies occur such as the Littleton, Colorado shooting (Columbine). The following are a few tips for those seeking assistance in doing so:

  • Do not be afraid to bring up the subject of the shootings with children. They may have heard about the shootings, they may not have, but don't ignore the possibility. Take this opportunity to let them express their feelings. Are they afraid to go to school now? Do they have concerns about students at their school?
  • Discuss with them what they would do in an emergency situation should one occur at their school.  Encourage them to report any suspicious behavior or comments they may have heard from other students.  Random violence is impossible to predict, so discuss an emergency plan of action with them should they ever be exposed to such violence. What should they do? (don't panic, remain calm) Where should they go? (Is there a safe way out?)
  • Do not be afraid to be a "nosy" parent. Be aware of where your child is and what they are doing, no matter how old they are. Do not feel like you cannot go into their room and take a look around. You are the parent and you have a right (and obligation) to know what is going on in your own home. When it comes to protecting your children, there is no such thing as "invasion of privacy."
  • If your child is exhibiting disturbing signs of behavior, address it immediately. As parents, you may be familiar with the "fine-no nothing-not really" response. For example: "How was your day at school today, honey?" "Fine." "Did you do anything interesting?" "Not really." "Is there anything you'd like to talk to me about?" "No, nothing." It can be frustrating trying to communicate with kids, but the important thing is to let them know that you want to. Keep asking your questions and let them know you are interested and they will feel comfortable when they really need to talk with you about something.
  • With the unregulated access to Internet sites, children are exposed to innumerable sites with inappropriate material. Supervise what your children are accessing on the Internet. Don't be afraid to check their files and monitor what they are pulling up. If your child has access to a computer elsewhere, take the time to contact that parent or educational center and find out how they monitor the activity on their computer(s). If they do not, then you may have to consider whether or not you want your child at that location anymore.

Cherish your children and tell them you love them every single day.  Even when a child is being punished, it is still appropriate to let them know that you love them. Children are our most precious treasures and it is up to each and every one of us to assist in protecting them. Children are our future and we have the responsibility of raising them correctly. Even if you don't have children of your own, everyone plays a part in a child's life and this role should be taken seriously by all.

Email the Crime Prevention Coordinator