Students deserve to feel safe in their school environments; however, student safety encompasses much more than physical safety. Students need to feel physically and emotionally safe in order to not only perform well academically but also stay involved in classes, extracurriculars, and socially. This responsibility falls to administrators, parents, teachers, counselors, and other school staff members.
School Resource Officers (SROs) are a part of the team tasked with maintaining and fostering a safe environment for students and staff. SROs are law enforcement officers employed by local departments or school systems, though they have the same capabilities as other police officers. However, in addition to enforcing the law on school grounds, SROs also act as educators, emergency managers, and informal counselors. This is a hefty duty, and to be effective, SROs have to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of school safety practices.
Here are five resources that School Resource Officers can utilize to stay up-to-date with the most recent tools, data, and information available to promote a healthy school environment:
1. Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center
Commisioned by the US Department of Education, the REMS TA Center provides invaluable resources to all stakeholders tasked with nurturing school safety. REMS TA Center has topic-specific resources that encompass all stages of emergency preparedness and management. Topics include how to manage lockdowns and evacuations, different types of hazards and threats, and basic planning principles. Their content comes in many forms, including but not limited to webinars, online courses, and on-site trainings.
2. US Department of Education Publication “Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health”
Part of the “School Climate and Student Discipline Resources” published by the US Department of Education, “Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs” is a lengthy report that covers the challenges facing school personnel in providing mental health support to students along with seven recommendations in order to do so effectively.
SROs play an important role in helping students feel safe in their school environment, which contributes to their overall wellbeing during their educational career. This report details current data on students’ and their families’ perspectives on mental health programs in schools as well as data on what may contribute to students’ mental health, which is valuable for all school staff members to keep in mind when interacting with students.
3. National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments
Similar to REMS, the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) is also funded by the US Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools. Their resources focus on helping school personnel improve conditions for learning. NCSSLE has countless resources on nearly every topic and in every form, including digital guides, webinars, downloadable training packages, conferences, and more. Between the large amount of recent data available on their website and their toolkits for evaluating your own school or district and implementing new programs, NCSSLE is a hub of useful information.
4. Each State’s Association of School Resources Officers
Most states have an organized association for SROs, such as the Texas Association of School Resource Officers, which has a dedicated “Resources” page. Compared to other national organizations, these organizations provide resources that are specific to each state as well as conferences and training opportunities across the state.
To find your state’s association, search “School Resource Officer Association + [your state’s name].”
5. LAW Publications’ Journals, Flyers, and Coloring Books
In addition to staying up-to-date with the latest statistics and information on students’ perceptions and practical ways to maintain a safe environment, it is also important to be armed with materials that can help students navigate the perils and pitfalls that come with growing up.
LAW Publications has materials tailored to every age group:
- Our coloring books, created for children ages 4-12, teach children about topics such as calling 911, gun safety, and the difference between drugs and medicine.
- For pre-teens and teenagers, we have journals and flyers covering a wide range of important subjects, such as our “Let’s All Work to Fight Drug Abuse” journal or our “Distracted Driving” and “Vaping” flyers.
These materials can help SROs and other staff members initiate meaningful conversations and build relationships with students.
Creating a safe environment for students is a never-ending task that requires knowledge, care, and cooperation from all parties involved. In order to provide the best possible environment for students, School Resource Officers and other stakeholders need to stay informed on best practices.