Harnessing the Community to Tackle School Safety
This blog post is a personal perspective of the Campus Safety East conference and how community involvement can positively impact school safety.
I was thrilled when I learned that Campus Safety East would be held in Philadelphia, PA. I had never visited the historical city before and couldn’t wait for the experience. The city definitely lived up to my expectations. I was in awe of the older buildings and the way their architecture blended with the modern skyline. This setting reminded me of Ben Franklin and other founding fathers who built our country by challenging the status-quo, which was precisely my reason for attending this conference in the first place.
School safety is not static or stuck in time, much like the city of Philadelphia, it grows and changes.
There are some risks that are as old as our country but they have evolved in step with civilization. Every day there are new risks -- but there are also new ideas. To address risk we must collaborate and learn from each other which is what we aimed to do at Campus Safety East. The ballroom was filled with technology providers and first responders with a wide variety of products and solutions, some as old as the walkie talkie and some as new as the School Solutions Network.
We sponsored a round-table discussion for a non-profit organization that we are proud to support and work with, Safe and Sound Schools. One of the co-founders, Michele Gay, spoke on the need for schools to engage with their surrounding communities. As various School Resource Officers and mental health providers weighed in, it became clear that no one had a solution or an easy way to do what Michele was suggesting. It was at this point in the conversation that Michele turned towards me and asked me to share what we have been up to. I explained how learning from Michele had prompted our company to launch a community engagement initiative, School Solutions Network, which helps schools start or stay in communication with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and law enforcement officials. I described how providing situational awareness to an entire community could help deem their schools safe and sound. It was clear that everyone at our table agreed that schools should not be left alone in pursuit of safety and was ready to challenge the status quo by collaborating with each other, thus engaging in an ecosystem of mutual benefit.
It’s a child’s responsibility to go to school and pay attention, it’s a teacher’s responsibility to provide an education, but it’s the community’s responsibility to take care of them.
My history knowledge is a bit fuzzy but I’m fairly certain that building this country and keeping it safe was not the sole responsibility of Benjamin Franklin or George Washington. What would the city of Philadelphia look like today if no one challenged the status quo?