Facts About Weapons on Schools
These days in America, safety has become a more pressing concern than ever before. Schools across the nation are becoming increasingly aware of the potential for violence when weapons are brought in by children, adults, or strangers in the school community. These concerns have led to many stringent discipline policies, some of which are confusing for parents who become caught up in the chaos if their child becomes involved in a weapons problem. Here are some basic facts that all parents need to know about weapons in the school environment.
Zero tolerance policies
Zero tolerance policies are in place in many schools across the country. With these policies, there are absolute disciplinary actions for students caught with weapons. Therefore, in some schools, this can mean an elementary school child who brings a pocket knife to show and tell can be treated as severely as a child who flashes a knife at a staff member. Be aware of your school's policies about weapons possession, and speak to your children honestly and firmly about it. Some children try to sneak things in to impress friends and find themselves at the center of a firestorm if they are caught. Realize that with many of these policies, individual administrators and teachers are required to hand out specific consequences by their school policies; their actions are not dictated by their feelings about your specific child. Rather, these policies have been put in place to help keep all children safe. If you have questions, please ask your local school about their weapons policies.
Toy weapons are not for school
Many companies that create toys have made models that are extremely realistic. Regardless of the color or size of your child's toy knife or gun, it should not be brought to school. Some weapons policies regard toy weapons as severely as the real thing, and your child could be penalized if they bring them to school. If your family rules allow for using water guns and play swords, that is perfectly acceptable at your home. However, please be aware that school districts are responsible for the safety of all of the children in the school system, and even toy weapons can cause others to be afraid for their safety. The best advice to all students is not to take any toy weapons to school.
Weapons can mean more than knives and guns
Children are naturally curious, and most love to be able to show off a unique curio to their friends. However, unique things such as bullets, throwing stars, arrows, and lighters shaped like missiles can be considered weapons in some circumstances. In some instances, parents do not realize that their child has even brought these things to school in their backpack, and are completely shocked when called by the school about weapons. The best answer to this problem is to be preventive with your child. If you find your child is highly interested in a specific item in your home that might not be appropriate for school, do not simply lock the item away. Rather, sit down with your child and talk to them about why, even though it may be interesting for the family, it is not something that should be brought to school. Do not simply try to hide items from your children; they are almost sure to find them by accident or determination.
Threats can be weapons, too
Today's violent television and gaming culture has led to an increased likelihood of hearing violent language from children. Phrases such as "I'll kill you", "I'm going to beat you", or "I wish I had a gun" are not taken lightly by schools. Children need to be taught from an early age that expressing anger or frustration cannot be done the way it is in television or in the movies. They need to understand there are serious consequences for their actions. The best way to head this off is to make this kind of language unacceptable in your home. By avoiding these types of comments in casual conversations they are less likely to come out in school. Be aware that school districts have varying policies on threats and bullying, and some of the consequences of these can be severe.
Prevention is certainly the most effective weapon we all have against violence in schools. By speaking to your children openly and honestly about weapons, safety, and your family values, your children are less likely to become caught up in a problem at school. Be sure to read through your child's school handbook with them so they are aware of school policies, as well as your family rules. Also, be sure to teach your child how to report something that is unsafe in their school. Children often see more than adults when other students are trying to keep something hidden, so it's important that your child knows when there's a safety issue at stake, it's definitely okay to tell about it. Safety issues are never tattles.
Working together is important to keep all of our children safe. For more information on your school's weapons policies or about questions you have on helping to prevent violence, please call your local school or guidance counselor for more information. Safety is everyone's responsibility.