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The Seraphim

Schools’ challenge: keeping kids safe

Danielle Kalil, Staff Writer

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Schools traditionally have been safe havens for students–yet recent statistics show one in five college students will be assaulted on campus.

Hoping to bring awareness to the issue occurring on college campuses,Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.35.39 PM Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said, “The price of a college education should not include a one in five chance of being sexually assaulted.”

High schools across the nation are following college safety initiatives by adding precautions and procedures. So, how does NDP ensure and maintain safety on campus? Dean Carl Hess said with lots of  practice.

School administrations and state governments are implementing both awareness and safety procedures across the nation. Many universities offer shuttles and escort programs to ensure that students get home safely, according to The New York Times, while others–including ASU and U of A–have smartphone apps to enhance communication with campus security.

While NDP has never had a real lockdown, Hess said NDP has plans and procedures for all types of scenarios in the event of an imminent threat to students’ safety. Hess said that these strategies, including lockdowns and fire drills, become efficient when they are put to the test through “constant practice.”

Unlike college students, who  come face-to-face with dangerous situations that include sexual assault, aggravated assault and robberies for the first time in their lives, NDP students report they feel safe on campus, with no serious violent incidents having taken place in the school’s 14-year history.  

According to the dean, Notre Dame Prep also creates a safe environment by having security guards from Bolt Security Guard Services on campus throughout the school day. He said the campus has security cameras to prevent threatening situations from arising.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 75 percent of schools used one or more security cameras to monitor their campuses in the 2013–14 school year.

Senior Madison Grunwald said that constantly having security officers “zooming around” campus helps her feel safe and secure at NDP.

Senior Hale Stewart agrees and also believes that having random drug testing is an important part of safety on NDP’s campus.

Hess added that staff and teachers also supervise before and after school, as well as during break, lunch and after-school events. He said this supervision is important because all of the faculty and administration are properly trained in both CPR and first aid.

Hess said NDP also promotes safety by having a closed campus that requires a sign-in upon arrival and sign-out when leaving. He added the school has strong connections with both the fire department and the local police.

Senior Emily Bateman said, “We never really see anything alarming happening on campus.” 

Not all students agree, with senior Emily Garrison saying, “I feel that the campus is unsafe because anyone could come in at any time of the day. Most of the doors are made of glass, and there is nothing actually stopping people from coming on campus.”

Hess said the high school is always looking for new and better options to increase campus safety. He added that the future expansion of the school will be sure to bring more options and new opportunities.

Senior Ryan Kelledy predicts the campus will be even safer in 10 years time as a result of new, advanced technologies.

Stewart said, “Technology will be the key to future safety at NDP.”

Dean Hess emphasized the role of the student body and said the administration depends on the students not only to fully engage in procedures and drills but also to bring new feedback and ideas to the board and to inform them if incidents do occur or they feel threatened or in danger.

Safety on college campuses

Looking ahead to college, several students expressed fears about safety on college campuses. Bateman said,”I feel like there will be higher risk of danger and greater fear of being in harmful situations once I get to college.”

With statistics indicating that 20 percent of college students reported being assaulted on campus, both colleges and students have sought for ways on how to stay safe.

According to guidance counselor Elizabeth Roper, students are required to take control of their own safety once they go to college. Although Ms. Roper attended an enclosed college in the Bronx with security at the entrances, she said safety in college requires kids to be self-responsible.

Ms. Roper said students tend to create this idea that their college is a safe haven and develop a sense of trust in their environment. Students often leave their doors unlocked and are extremely reckless when it comes to safety, she said. It is this comfort and sense of trust that leads to vulnerability and danger on college campuses, Ms. Roper said.

Students are guided by adults in the event of an emergency when they are in high school, she said; when it comes to college, however, students need to know what to do for themselves. Either way, students must be aware of what to do if something goes wrong or a dangerous situation arises.

Ms. Roper encourages students to know the facilities that are offered around them and how to act in an emergency in order to stay safe throughout high school, college, and the rest of their lives.

Like so many people across the nation, Spanish teacher Brooke Dauphinais became more safety conscience after 9/11. A teacher in Connecticut at the time, Ms. Dauphinais was a 20-minute train ride from New York and could see the smoke from the World Trade Center.

Ms. Dauphinais was initially told to ask her students who had relatives in the burning buildings to go home, but her fear for safety heightened when the attacks were confirmed as acts of terrorism. According to Ms. Dauphinais, everyone in the Connecticut school was sent home early, and classes were cancelled the next day.

NDP opened in 2002, a year after the terrorist attacks. According to Ms. Dauphinais, NDP took great strides to ensure safety upon opening. She said all students were required to wear lanyards with their school IDs in the early years.

Although Ms. Dauphinais hopes that NDP is never put in a harm’s way, she encourages the community to participate in drills and learn how to act in dangerous situations. She said, “You can never be too prepared.”

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Schools’ challenge: keeping kids safe