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In the wake of Columbine and several other school shooting tragedies, the US Secret Service and the US Department of Education launched a comprehensive study to examine these phenomena and make recommendations to our nation's schools regarding best practices for school safety. They clearly found that many of these tragedies could have been avoided had both adults and students came forward with information to the administration and authorities. In many of these cases it was found that both adults and students had knowledge of an imminent threat and failed to disclose for fear of getting involved or the stigma of being an informant.
West Buffalo Charter School's Safety Team took a very close look at all these recommendations. The BearTipline is a tool that adds potential anonymity to the process of sharing information. We are encouraging our learning community to use this as a tool to promote school safety. The information shared can run the gamut for serious violent threats against the school and our student body, harassment and bullying, and/or drug and alcohol activity.
The information is forwarded to the school administration. The school administration will act upon the information according to student’s constitutional rights, established educational laws, district policies, and standard due process. The administration fully understands the unpredictable nature of third party information and will employ professional discretion to protect the civil liberties of all parties while maximizing a safe environment in our school and community.
The major components and tasks for creating a safe school climate include:
- Assessment of the school’s emotional climate;
- Emphasis on the importance of listening in schools;
- Adoption of a strong, but caring stance against the code of silence;
- Prevention of, and intervention in, bullying;
- Involvement of all members of the school community in planning, creating, and sustaining a school culture of safety and respect;
- Development of trusting relationships between each student and at least one
- adult at school; and
- Creation of mechanisms for developing and sustaining safe school climates.