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It all Comes Down to This…


posted March 8, 2016

All the hoping, well-wishing, and good intentions in the world will not do anything to prevent violence. These are just thoughts and thoughts divorced from action will accomplish nothing. In the end it all comes down to this…the only way to create a safer school is to do something.


Take action!


I'm going to give you five areas to focus your action and then I'm going to share with you the secret for success when it comes to effectively preventing unwanted behaviors (which is just another name for violence). But before I do that, I feel compelled to bring up two things.


Prayers and speeches.


When I ask participants at a conference what can be done to prevent violence, many will include prayer. Prayer is interior thought petitioning another (God) for action. So there's still a desire for action and a self-awareness that action is needed.


Speeches are just words but they do still fall into the category of action, just a lower or lesser form of action. We know for a fact that what we do or don't do has an impact on the person who is planning and preparing to do violence against us and our school. To publicly proclaim that you will not accept or tolerate violence is a good thing and may have an influence. However, that influence will be greatly lessened if not followed up with actions that prove the conviction of your words.


So once again it comes back to…action.


First, the five areas.


1. Create safety Relationships.

Take action to get closer to your kids. Not only will it help them to be more successful academically, but the students will help you to create a safer school. Repeatedly encourage them to share with you when they are afraid for their safety or the safety of others.


If you haven't already done so, try this super easy and quick way to develop safety relationships with your kids.


2. Reshape your Environment.

Take action to reshape your environment and to make it work for you in preventing unwanted behaviors. Increase your supervision in order that you can see the threat first. Enhance your access control so you can deny and delay unwanted people from getting into your school. And tell everyone you care by celebrating your classrooms, halls, and building exterior. Put up posters, paint murals, clean up trash, get rid of graffiti, clear out the clutter, and require all teachers and staff members to maintain a friendly but professional appearance and work space.


Send a very clear and positive message to would be offenders that you care and that you'll be watching and you won't tolerate violence.


3. Quickly and accurately Assess threats of violence

Take action and prepare your school to be able to quickly and accurately determine if a person truly poses a threat to themselves and others. If you don't have a threat assessment team or the ability to assess a threat of violence, this is priority one. There is no skill or ability more important than having this one.


4. Identify and report threats of Danger.

Take action and train your teachers and students to be able to identify and report threats. We have a free PowerPoint you can use to give a 30 minute presentation to your teachers or simply let them view it on their own. The PowerPoint is only available for police and school personnel so please email with your police or school email and he'll send you a copy.


5. Develop Yourself.

Take action and better prepare yourself. Cameras record, locks delay, but people prevent violence. People are the prize. You are the prize. You can prevent violence.


The five areas can be remembered with the acronym READY (Relationships, Environment, Assessments, Danger, You). We created the READY Method and each of our trainings and professional developments are based on this method. If you've attended one of our courses, you've learned a segment of the READY Method.


The secret to success in preventing violence is to focus your efforts on reducing the opportunity for violence to occur. Not only is it the most effective approach but it is also the easiest.


For example…


If your teachers stand out in the hall and supervise the kids during class change you will lessen the opportunity for bullying and other unwanted behaviors to take place because your teachers are standing right there and they are willing and prepared to respond. We may not change the mind of the bully but we can reduce the opportunity for aggressive behaviors.


If you stand outside in the morning when the kids arrive and you will limit the opportunity for someone to slip onto your property. You may not change the desire of a person to come on to your property but you may reduce his opportunity to do so unseen.


Too often we try to first get into the head of the person and try to convince him to not want to do violence. The problem with this approach is that 1) it's the toughest to accomplish because we're trying to get a person to no longer desire something and 2) we're trying to reason a person out of a position that they may not have reasoned themselves into.


We can't assume that logic alone will turn their minds and hearts if logic wasn't how they reached the decision to do a wrong. It may be something much more elusive and emotional.


Instead, first reduce the opportunity for violence to occur and then work on everything else. This order of effort is much easier and the results can be immediate while making a person change his mind is very difficult and long term.


If you can virtually eliminate the opportunity for violence to occur, you will by default also impact the offender's desire to commit the unwanted behavior because he may think that there's no way he can get away with it. There's just no opportunity. While this certainly doesn't work on every person, it works with many.


Like all things in life, you stand a much greater chance of success by taking purposeful and consistent action towards accomplishing your goals. Any goal, regardless of how worthy it is, is really only a dream until you take action. Having a safer school is not a dream but a reality just waiting for someone (you) to do something. In the end it all comes down to this…take action!



>>> If you liked the information in this article, then you'll love the class Conducting School Vulnerability Assessments which gives you the materials and skills to be able to reshape a school environment to reduce or eliminate the opportunity for violence to occur.


To find a Conducting Vulnerability Assessments course in your area, click on this link. If you don't see one, please email or call if you'd like to host a class in your area. It's super easy and you receive free seats for the training.