If there is a threat outside the building, bring everyone in and lock the outside doors. Secure is activated by the SPPS Emergency Communications Center or the site administrator. Secure can be called when staff or students notice something weird or strange. Secure could be the response to a violent person or incident in the community near your school. Teachers, staff or administration will get students back into the building. Teachers will take attendance and notify the office of missing or extra students. This means increased situational awareness, but class will be conducted as usual.
You can play an important role in school safety. Download the MySPPS app from Google Play or the Apple App Store and look for the “Send a Tip” icon. Choose the school and tip category, provide your contact information or stay anonymous. It’s your choice, and it’s simple. Safe schools start with you!
You have four main safety responsibilities as a student:
- Read and follow the district’s Rights and Responsibilities Guide: A Student Behavior Handbook.
- Know your school’s rules and emergency procedures and follow them. Pay attention during drills and know what to do in an emergency.
- Be alert for Warning signs of trouble—in yourself and others. Know when to turn to an adult for help.
- Keep it cool! Do what you can to diffuse situations and keep violence in check.
In addition, you’ll find ideas for dealing with specific situations under Tools and Tips.
Feeling scared and alone can lead to problems, and help is available for you. The following list of problems indicates it's time to get help; talk to your parents, a teacher, counselor, or principal. Feel free to talk to a trusted adult any time you feel safety is an issue—for yourself or others.
- If you, or one of your friends, have ongoing feelings of sadness or depression, or symptoms of depression
- If you have had thoughts of hurting yourself, or a friend has mentioned hurting themselves. Take it seriously and get help
- You see another student being repeatedly bullied, or repeatedly excluded and picked on
- You hear a student threaten another student with physical harm
- You hear a student mention wanting to get even, attack or harm another student or staff person
- You see or hear about a weapon in school
Threats and Rumors
If you hear about a threat at your school, or a rumor that someone has a weapon, please let us know. We don't need your name - just information to help keep you and your friends safe. You can use the Send-A-Tip anonymously, or let us know who you are, you choose! Let us know what school you attend, and what your concerns are. We'll take it from there.
SIX THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT VIOLENCE
School safety is on everyone's mind, especially after events like the Red Lake and Columbine shootings. Long before tragedies occur, there are several things you can do to lower the risk of violence. Take charge of your future and be strong about zero tolerance for violence in your school. It’s your life; be strong.
- Refuse to bring a weapon to school and report those who do. You may feel like a snitch, but you could be saving their life - or your own.
- Learn how to help other kids resolve their disputes peacefully. Join a peer mediator group and educate yourself on how to diffuse tough situations.
- Mentor a younger student. Younger students sometimes feel alone and intimidated when they first come to a school, and try to act tough to establish themselves. You can help steer them straight.
- Take a stand against violence. Do stories on anti-violence in your student newspaper. Hold a vigil, make posters, do whatever it takes. It’s your school.
- Welcome new students. Get to know at least one unfamiliar student every week. Violence often comes from students who feel alone and isolated.
- Report crime immediately to school staff.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT FIGHTS
You can help prevent fights by getting your head in the right place before they occur. A little preparation can go a long way to keeping things cool when tempers flare.
- Know your triggers. Understand what sets you off and find ways to diffuse your own anger before it erupts.
- If controlling your anger is a problem, enroll in an after-school program at a community center, church or other location that offers conflict resolution training.
- In a tense situation, give everyone an emotional out. Most fights occur because one or more participants have been backed into a corner emotionally and feel they have no way to save face other than to fight.
- Be willing to concede something to your opponent. Understand why they’re angry and try to find something you’re willing to offer. Use your head, not your fists.
- Never fight with anyone using drugs or alcohol, or anyone carrying a weapon.
- Never carry a weapon yourself. Having a weapon greatly increases your chance of being seriously injured, or injuring someone not involved in the dispute.
- Be a responsible bystander. Never cheer on a fight, it escalates the intensity and leads to more serious injuries for the participants.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE BEING BULLIED
Bullying may be a natural part of childhood, but that doesn’t make it right. Here’s what you can do to reduce the impact of bullying on yourself, or a friend who’s being bullied.
- Talk to a trusted adult. Your parents, a teacher, counselor or building administrator. You may think it’ll make it worse to involve an adult, but research shows it leads to better results. You never have to face a bullying situation alone!
- Be confident. Hold your head up, stand up straight, make eye contact, and walk confidently. Bullies tend to isolate and pick on those who don’t show self-confidence.
Don’t blame yourself. Bullies have issues, not you. Come up with a plan with a trusted adult to end the situation.
- Don’t fight back aggressively, it only makes the situation worse. Defensive blocking, breaking holds and other types of protective maneuvers are fine.
- Look for an out. Make a joke, ignore the bully, look for an escape route. Don’t let them know how much they’re getting to you, it’ll only make the situation worse.
- There’s power in numbers. Make friends and make sure you’re with them in typical bullying situations. Stick up for each other. If you see someone else being bullied, tell the bully to stop.
- Don’t fall into the trap of arming yourself. Carrying a weapon is against school policy, is illegal and only makes it more likely for someone to be seriously hurt.
- Bullying situations come and go, getting seriously hurt can last for life.
- Parents shouldn’t take it on themselves to straighten out the bully or the bully’s family. Unless your parents know the family very well, it’s not a good idea to confront strange families about the bullying problem.
THINK TWICE: FAST FACTS ON GANGS
Before you get yourself in over your head, here are a few facts on gangs to give you some perspective.
- Gang members are 60 times more likely to be killed than non-gang members.
- Gang violence has become increasingly deadly in the last several decades as a result of the introduction of automatic weapons and drive-by shootings.
- About 95% of hard core gang members are high school dropouts.
- In 1975 there were about 55,000 gang members in the United States. By 1997 the number had ballooned to over 800,000. In 2015 the FBI reported 1.4 million active gang members in 33,000 different gangs across the Unites States. (source: FBI)
- Once you’re in, it is often times extremely dangerous and difficult to leave.
- Many gangs resort to violence, even homicide, to enforce loyalty and prevent members from leaving.
EIGHT TIPS FOR AVOIDING GANGS
The truth of the situation is that gang activity is escalating all around the country. That doesn’t mean you have to become a victim. Here are eight tips to avoiding gang activity.
- Don’t hang out or associate with gang members or "wannabe” gang members.
- Don’t identify or communicate with gangs.
- Keep your eyes open for known gang hangouts and steer clear.
- Don’t approach cars with people appearing to be asking for directions.
- Know the gang-related clothing in your area and don’t wear it where gangs congregate.
- Never attend a party put on by gangs or their associates.
- Don’t take part in any graffiti activity or hang around where graffiti is present.
- Don’t use any kind of finger gesture or sign language in public that might be construed as a gang sign.
LESSONS FROM RED LAKE AND COLUMBINE
The truth is that while shootings at Red Lake and Columbine got a tremendous amount of media attention, they are extremely rare. Yet, students, parents and teachers can all take away some important lessons from these incidents.
- Violent rampages are rarely impulsive actions, in almost all cases someone else knew the plot and had seen warning signs.
- Most students who went on rampages were social outcasts, and were often bullied, and teased mercilessly by other students. The violence was payback for the bullying.
- Attackers had exhibited signs and symptoms of fantasizing about committing violent acts against fellow students and teachers.
- Attackers will often “leak” information about their intentions to other students.It is the responsibility of every student to report such intentions to a responsible adult.
- Most school tragedies are avoided by students sharing information with adults. Step forward and help everyone in the situation by doing the right thing.
- Warning signs common in most incidents are violent art and writings, feelings of depression and isolation, mentioning to friends that they’d like to shoot someone, and mention of suicide.
- Be alert for radical changes in behavior.
- Be especially sensitive for warning signs after a student has experienced a personal loss, such as the death of a loved one.
- Tools and Tips
- Get Involved
- How to Set Limits with Your Children
- Keeping School Violence In Perspective
- Safety Tips
- What We Do to Keep Your Children Safe
How to Tell If Your Child is Being Bullied
Children who are being harassed by a bully exhibit some common symptoms, but each child may show symptoms differently. Here’s what to look for if you suspect your child may be having problems with a bully. If you suspect a problem, make sure to report it to your child’s teacher or principal.
- Child wants to stay home
- Schoolwork goes downhill
- Frequently damaged/ripped clothing, destroyed personal items
- Frequent headaches and stomachaches
- Seems on edge/cries easily
- Unexplained bruises
- Refuses to tell you what is wrong
- Starts bullying others
Remind your child that they can report bullying to a trusted adult, or by using the MySPPS Send-A-Tip. More information on bullying can be found on the SPPS Office of School Support Bullying Prevention page, and at stopbullying.gov.
What You Can Do to Prevent Bullying
- Talk about bullying with your kids before it happens and encourage them to tell you about any bullying incidents.
- When a situation occurs, stop and listen. Ask you child questions about how he or she has tried to stop the bullying. Be non-judgmental and supportive.
- Affirm your child. Support your child’s feelings and help validate them as O.K. and understandable. Don’t give the impression that the bullying incident is their fault, or that something is wrong with them that is causing the situation. The bully’s behavior is the problem.
- Ask questions about the situation. Specifically, what is your child doing to try and stop the bullying? Gather information without being judgmental or overreacting.
- Encourage your child to use their imagination to come up with solutions. It’s empowering to them to think up ways to stop the bullying on their own. Support them, but don’t encourage dependence on you.
- Determine your child’s safety needs. Talk to your child’s teacher and let he or she know what is happening. Report to legal authorities if the situation becomes dangerous.
- Don’t confront the bully on your own. It sends the signal to the bully that your child can’t handle the situation.
- Don’t confront the bully’s parents unless you know them very well. Bullying may be seen as an acceptable form of behavior in the bully’s home.
- Be responsive. Take action to end the situation.
- Tell you child to have confidence and that “You can handle this.”
- Don’t encourage students to fight back aggressively, it tends to make the bullying last longer and become more intense. Learning defensive blocks and maneuvers is a good idea.
- Do encourage your child to look for escape routes, get help from friends, use humor to diffuse the situation and learn how to avoid the bully.
Is Your Child Involved With Gangs?
Unfortunately, gang participation in the United States is soaring. In the past thirty years the ranks of gang members across the United States is up 1400%—from 55,000 gang members in 1975 to over 800,000 today. Violent music, videos, video games and a youth culture that supports the “gangsta” experience is glamorizing the culture and making it attractive to teens. Parents need to fight back. Here are some common warning signs that your child might be involved in a gang.
- Child uses gang slang in ordinary conversation around the house
- Adopts a new nickname that is consistent with gang culture
- Secretive about new friends, not willing to have parents meet them
- Flashing hand signs to friends, or even when alone. Practices them at home
- Wanting to wear clothes of consistently the same color, especially of the same paired colors, i.e. blue and black or red and black
- Gang symbols or graffiti on notebooks and personal property
- Inability/unwillingness to account for their time away from home
- Changes in health due to drug/alcohol abuse
- Large amounts of unexplained cash, electronics or stolen merchandise
- Sudden change in behavior and loss of interest in family activities
- Frequently staying out past curfew and not offering explanation for activity
The key to reducing unwanted behavior in schools starts with love and attention at home. The number one thing parents can do to make their kids safer at school is to be actively involved and interested in their children’s lives. Here are some general tips for keeping your kids safe through your personal involvement.
- Know who your child’s friends are. Ask to meet all of your child’s friends and do not allow them to have secret friends, or friends they will not bring over to the house.
- Know where your children are when they’re not at home and check up occasionally to make sure that they are where they say they are.
- Establish set times for curfew and do not allow children to stay out beyond their curfew.
- It’s your house; don’t allow children to have secret places, a locked room without access, “parent free zones” or any other area where you are not allowed.
- Apply reasonable expectations and boundaries, and be consistent and fair in discipline.
- Encourage open communication and ask lots of questions—they are the best security tool a parent has.
- Learn how to discuss difficult situations with your children without being judgmental or backing them into a corner. Remember their safety is your number one concern, not you being proven right.
- Numerous books and parenting classes offered through community education, churches, the YMCA and other sources help parents deal with tough issues. Consider enrolling in one if you are experiencing a problem.
Get Involved in Your School’s Site Council
Saint Paul Public Schools are proud of our innovative Site Based Improvement process called Site Councils. These teams of principals, teachers, staff, families, students and community members, clearly define school goals, help shape school policy and procedures and solve problems. They meet after school when parents and community members are available and discuss and take action on a wide range of issues—including school safety. Site Council is the perfect forum for parents who wish to be involved in creating a safer school for their children. Ask your principal about the Site Council process in your school.
Get Involved in our Community Forums
Saint Paul Public Schools regularly holds community forums on a variety of topics. If you feel safety is an issue that needs to be discussed, or have noticed disconcerting trends in safety at your child’s school, why not suggest a forum topic for discussion? To suggest a theme, contact the District Ombudsperson, Desiree' Payne, at 651-767-8394 or email her.
Office of Security and Emergency Management
If your school is unable to resolve a safety and security issue, and you feel your child is in a dangerous situation, please contact our office at 651-767-8370. If you prefer to share information anonymously you can use our Send-A-Tip. We work closely with School Safety Teams and local police to resolve potentially dangerous situations.
Have an Unresolved Problem? Contact the District Ombudsperson.
The district provides an impartial advocate to work with parents to resolve issues and complaints against Saint Paul Public Schools. If you have an ongoing security concern that you feel is not being addressed adequately, contact the Ombudsperson, Desiree' Payne, at 651-767-8394. Messages can be left in English, Hmong, Somali or Spanish. You can also e-mail Desiree'.
Setting limits is an alternative to threatening and punishment. It is one of the most powerful tools that parents have for providing discipline for their children. Knowing that there are limits on their behavior helps kids feel safe.
There are two important things to know about setting limits:
1. Setting a limit is not the same as giving an ultimatum.
Limits should not sound threats, such as "If you don't clean your room, you'll be grounded." Limits should offer choices with consequences. "If you clean your room, you can go out with your friends. If you don't clean your room, you can't go out with your friends. It's your decision."
2. The purpose of limits is to teach not to punish.
Through limits children begin to understand that their actions, positive or negative result in predictable consequences. By providing choices and consequences, parents provide a structure for good decision making.
Here is a five-step approach to limit setting from the Crisis Prevention Institute:
1. Tell your child the behavior you want.
Saying, "Stop that!" may not be enough. Tell your child exactly what you want her or him to do. Be specific.
2. Explain why the behavior is inappropriate.
Don't assume your child knows why his or her behavior is not okay. Is it disturbing others? Being disrespectful? Not doing what you asked?
3. Give reasonable choices with consequences.
Tell your child what her or his choices are, and what the consequences of those choices will be. Make sure that the consequences are reasonable and something you can and will enforce.
4. Allow Time
It is best to allow your child a few moments to make his or her decision. Remember that if he is upset, he may not be thinking clearly. It may take a minute or two to think through what you have said.
5. Be prepared to enforce your consequences.
Limit setting will not work if you don't consistently enforce the consequences you've set, even when it is inconvenient.
Limit setting is a powerful tool for teaching children proper behavior. The purpose of limit setting is not to show who is boss, but to give children guidance and a feeling of security.
- Despite shocking tragedies like Columbine and Red Lake, and persistent media attention, the rate of homicides in schools has been dropping since 1993.
- From 1995 to 2003, the number of students who reported being victims of crime at school declined from 10 percent to 5 percent.
- The percentage of students who report feeling afraid at school steadily declined from 1995 to 2001, and has held steady since 2001.
- The number of students who reported carrying a weapon to school has steadily declined since 1993.
- Students are less at-risk for serious violent crime in school than they are out of school
- From 1992 to 2000, 234 kids were victims of homicides in schools across the country. By contrast, 24,406 were homicide victims in places other than school, meaning it is over 100 times more likely that a child will be a victim of homicide outside of school than in it.
- Bullying is a persistent problem around the country, and is one form of violence that has seen an increase in recent years.
If you are aware of a potentially violent situation, please call 911 immediately. If you want to share information anonymously please use our Send-A-Tip.
Sources: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics,National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). School Crime and Safety, 2003. National Center for Education Statistics. National Center of Vital Statistics, 1997.
- Teach children to use the buddy system. There is usually more safety for children in groups. Group play before and after school is best on playgrounds and around the neighborhood.
- Know where your children are at all times. Teach them to come straight home after school. When visiting or playing with friends, children should always adhere to parent-approved schedules. Those students who ride school buses or MTC should always get off at their correct bus stop.
- Role-play with children to teach safety measures with strangers. Teach them to take several steps backward when approached by strangers; then stay out of arm's reach and run to a safe area.
- It is better to educate children about safety than to create fears. For example, teaching children to be wary of strangers should be given the same importance as looking both ways at street crossings and not playing with matches.
- Establish good communication with children to ensure they will readily report to you any unusual occurrences.
- Be sure your children memorize parents'/guardians full names, addresses, phone numbers, and places of employment.
- Watch for repeated appearances of unfamiliar cars in the neighborhood and take down the license plate numbers.
- Avoid putting your child's name on the outside of clothing, backpacks,etc. This practice makes it more difficult for strangers to speak to children by using their names in a familiar manner.
- If your child is accosted, the child should be taught to scream "I'm not your child," or "You're not my parent". Many times children forget to scream.
- At home, establish house rules and stick to them. Rules about play time and visits to other neighborhood homes should be enforced.
- Make sure children learn to identify safe people such as policemen and firemen.
- Teach children where safe homes or buildings are in case children need to run to them. Identify which neighbors are available to help when you are not at home. In an emergency situation children should be advised to run to the nearest house for assistance. Teach children to avoid alleys and empty lots, houses, or garages.
- Teach children that "strangers" are people we do not know. Criteria for familiarity should include someone whose name is well known, who lives nearby, or whom other family members know.
- As parents, keep in touch with schools, neighborhood centers, and law enforcement agencies. Stay up-to-date on child identification programs and safety awareness programs.
- Teach children that certain parts of their bodies are not to be touched by anyone, and that inappropriate conduct on the part of anyone else should be reported immediately. Parents should reinforce this concept regularly.
- Parents and children should establish a password known only to the immediate family. Children should be told not to go with an unfamiliar person without using the password.
- Parents should notify both the school and the police if an incident occurs anywhere or anytime.
- Stay informed about before and after school supervision times, and avoid sending children to school too early or allowing them to linger too long after school.
Our approach to safety reaches into every aspect of student life. From the first minute students wait for the bus in the morning, to the last minute they step off the bus in the evening, we have their safety as our top concern.
The five basic pillars of our safety program are:
- Training and drills
- Creating alternatives to violence
The place to stop violence in schools is long before it starts. Saint Paul Public Schools offers a variety of hands-on training to students to help them become safer in school. From learning communication and mediation skills, to learning how to appropriately channel anger, students learn appropriate outlets for emotions and how to control their behavior to perform responsively in a healthy school environment. A handbook of expectations, called Student Behavior Handbook: Rights and Responsibilitiesis presented to each student and family, so everyone is clear on the rules from the first day of school.
What parents can do to help
- Review the Student Behavior Handbook: Rights and Responsibilities so you are clear regarding expectations of students.
- Discuss expectations with your children and talk about possible consequences.
- Let them know it's okay to talk to a trusted adult, and if they prefer to report a tip anonymously they can Send-A-Tip.
- If you have any questions, contact us as soon as possible.
Students participate in a variety of emergency drills from how to evacuate school buses safely, to fire drills, to lockdown and intruder drills. Drills are repeated throughout the school year under varied conditions and are monitored by building administrators for effectiveness. When an emergency happens, students and staff know ahead of time what to do, and have experience doing it.
What parents can do to help
- Talk to your children when they report having a drill during their school day - help build their confidence by talking in positive, age appropriate language.
- Discuss drills during conferences with building staff to make sure they know their role in an emergency.
- Make sure your contact information is up to date, in case there is an emergency and staff need to contact you.
3. Alternatives to Violence
The best way to keep kids out of harm’s way is to create positive alternatives to lifestyles and behavior that lead them away violence. From Steps to Respect, anti-gang programs offer a host of after-school activities, clubs and extra-curricular activities; Saint Paul Public Schools makes it easy for kids to find something positive and affirming to be involved with.
What parents can do to help
- Talk to your children about ways to resolve disputes in a nonviolent manner.
- Make sure that school administrators are aware of issues in the neighborhood or at school that may be a breeding ground for violence (bullying, truancy, loitering, etc.).
We use a variety of mechanisms to control intruders, which may include trained greeters, or other assigned staff at entrances to schools, ensuring that all visitors are screened and registered. High schools have metal detectors available. Security cameras and walkie-talkie radio systems ensure that building administrators and staff are available to each other continuously and have control over the school. An established threat assessment process called a Threat Management by Assessment and Counseling ensures that counselors, teachers and administrators are aware of potential warning signs of violence in students, and intervene in a timely, consistent and fair manner in each situation.
What parents can do to help
- Know your children's friends and who they are spending time with.
- Monitor their activities and space to make sure they are not accessing materials that are harmful (this includes the internet).
When a threatening situation occurs, established rules and processes outline action steps for building staff. A range of consequences from counseling, to in-school suspension, to expulsion and police involvement result from unwanted or threatening behavior. A zero-tolerance policy for gang-related activity is enforced at every school.
What parents can do to help
- Work with school staff to stay on top of negative behaviors and address behavioral issues in their infancy rather than when your child has gone significantly off course.