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How to Recognize an Unsafe School: Vol. 57


How to Recognize an
Unsafe School

See how KEYS can help!!
Learn more…
Potentially Dangerous Students

School Shooting Map
School ViolenceThe first thing to note is that schools are safe places for children and adults. Statistically, people are safer at school than most other environments they will encounter. Yet, tragic things happen without reason or justification on school grounds across the United States. Why does this happen at some schools and not at others? Are some schools prone to violence by some mystical design or by unintentional actions of Administrations, Parents or Students? What we find is that violence can happen anywhere and the school that is not prepared to manage or handle it is an unsafe school. Listed below are some thought provoking ideas to help in finding the unsafe school. (See “Checklist of a Safe School)

I.   Attitude: It can never happen here. 

This is the most common of all characteristics of  the unsafe school.  When those who are responsible rest on the premise that their school is so close knit and everyone loves everyone too much to hurt someone else or we just don’t need it here.   Because of these believes they fail to prepare and become the unsafe school where you might hear someone say, “I never thought it could happen here!”

  • No conscious effort at prevention
  • Homeland Security is only important to those schools in New York, not us.
  • Lack of desire for input from community leaders, parents and students
  • No plan, or
    1. A canned, one-size-fits-all plan from an out of state source
    2. Written years ago and not been read since
    3. Its on file but no one has seen it
    4. Everyone knows about it but it has never been exercised
  • No formal survey of the site
    1. Number of doors
    2. Vulnerability to attacks similar to known incidents
    3. Location of all keys
    4. Location of the power, gas and water switches
    5. Visitors, vendors, contractors access practices

II.  Lack of a Threat Assessment Team

  • No written and posted Response Team roster reflecting name and position
  • Lacking a list of responders who should be in charge of students
  • Inappropriately assigning personnel with no regard to their personality, capabilities and limitation. It does not match the contingency
  • No rehearsals or practice

III.  Lack of Certified Key Personnel (or lack of knowledge as to who they are) CPR & First Aid

IV.  Missing Programs for staff, students and parents

V.   Failure to Enlist students in appropriate reporting

VI.  Lack of Team Building with Parents

VII. Now What?

Hire a consultant.
If the school could do it without help, the above would already be in place.

Once again we ask ourselves, “Have we done all that we can to insure the safety of our schools?” Keys To Safer is making a special offer to any school to review your crisis planning and provide a written critique of any shortcomings found. To take advantage of this offer, mail your school’s Emergency/Crisis Response Plan and supporting documents to:

Keys To Safer
Cabot, AR 72023

Visit the Keys website for valuable information and resource material on school violence prevention at

Programs to Combat Violence

Reported By:
Keys To Safer

If you have any comments or questions please Email us at