Feeling Safe at School

Earlier this week, we learned that another incident of school violence had been averted. Just north of Atlanta, in the small town of Woodstock, two teens are accused of planning an attack on the school, with a list of targeted staff and students. While for the rest of the world, this is an incident that “almost happened”, I’m sure it will have lasting effects for the staff and students in that area.

I remember the first time I had to learn the protocol for protecting students at school in case there was a safety issue. Even during our drills, as I quieted the children, turned out the lights, locked our doors and hid, I could feel the knot of anxiety in my stomach. It was just a drill, why was I feeling like this?

Fear is a tricky thing. Some of our fears are because of events or encounters that we have had and fear experiencing again. If someone has been attacked by a dog in the past, we don’t question that they have a fear of dogs. But fear also includes what our brain tells us could happen. Maybe you have always liked dogs, but you saw one at the park that got aggressive. Now you find yourself avoiding getting too close to dogs, or you jump when you hear a dog barking. Your brain is telling you what could happen, and your body is reacting.

We can’t completely shelter ourselves from all fears and still continue to thrive. So how do we keep moving forward? First, acknowledge the fear. Try to identify where it comes from.  Some fears we can tackle on our own. I addressed my fear of horses by volunteering on a farm. Sometimes, as may be the case with fears triggered by school violence, we need to talk through them, with a trusted colleague, friend or advisor. As a former educator, being able to talk to my peers about violence in schools was crucial to processing my reaction. Some fears will take more work, and a professional to help guide us. It’s up to you to take that first step.

What fear have you had and how did you address it?

For more information on addressing and reducing violence in schools:

Teaching Tolerance

CDC: School Connectedness


Leave a Reply