February 21, 2018
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, last week has refocused nationwide attention on the issue of school safety. Many of the surviving students are now dominating media coverage with their passionate appeals to end school shootings.
As children go back to school this week in America’s more than 100,000 K-12 schools, parents, teachers, administrators, and school boards will be considering how to respond to questions from children and parents about whether their schools are safe, and what should be done to make them safer.
In this context, it is important to recognize that more than 50 million children in the U.S. go to school every day to learn, play, and grow, with the vast majority of schools never having experienced this scale of violence. However, tragic school shootings like those in Columbine, Sandy Hook, and now Parkland are abhorrent to everyone, and school safety must be of paramount concern. Our society is being called to work at all levels to address our many challenges, including access to guns, mental health issues, and school protective measures. Throughout the U.S., we all will be dealing with these topics every day, and forthright responses will benefit everyone and help make children feel safer.
Scholastic serves almost every U.S. school through our magazines, book clubs, book fairs, and educational materials, along with our books and websites. Teachers expect Scholastic to offer help on important subjects, even if controversial, as we have throughout our nearly 100-year history, guided by our editorial credo, which emphasizes a deep respect for facts, logical thinking, and a balanced approach to a fair discussion.
In the past few days, we have polled our teacher advisers from kindergarten through high school on what we can do to help provide support on school safety. As a result, for grades K-6, we’re providing tips for teachers, parents, and administrators about how to handle discussions about violence and how to work to prevent it. For middle school and high school, we have posted age-appropriate articles, with discussion prompts, on the student activism that has taken place in the wake of the shooting in Parkland. Tips for talking to students about violence are also available for these grades. In addition, we will be providing information on our websites about Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information on school safety, including guidance on how to recognize the signs and signals of at-risk behavior.
We will continue to build out our teaching resources about school violence at all grade levels, a project that will culminate in an online hub for materials designed to help teachers empower students to help create a safe, tolerant, and empathetic school environment.
As always, we are consulting with teachers, principals, superintendents, and school boards, as well as mental health professionals and research authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to provide answers to the question of school safety, which is important to every family.
We will constantly update and revise our resources based on feedback from teachers and other experts. We hope that teachers will use these resources to support the children in their classrooms who might need to be reassured about what is being done to care for them. While helping teachers and schools to provide a secure environment, we also will continue, through all of our services to schools, to help children read and learn so they can achieve a full measure of academic and personal success.
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