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5 ways teachers can help prevent school violence

Violence
Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

School violence is a major cause of concern for educational institutions. It not only harms the victim, but the whole school environment. Though grave occurrences like the Ann Maguire incident are rare, teachers do face other forms of violence. According to a survey conducted by UNISON, 53% of teachers and support staff have experienced physical violence at school while 76% witnessed  violence in their schools.

Likewise, such incidents can also create an atmosphere of fear and insecurity among the students. Some forms of violence are less extreme such as slapping, bullying, hitting, etc. while more drastic forms of violence involve weapons and gangs. Irrespective of the nature of the action, incidences of even lower levels of violence can cause physical and emotional trauma.

According to an article in The Telegraph, there has been a massive rise in the number of children found with knives and other offensive weapons in school. So what can schools, and specifically teachers, do to help prevent violence?

How the law empowers teachers

Teachers have a range of controls when it comes to managing student behaviour and discipline. The important ones are –

  • The power to discipline students at any time within or outside the school. They can also issue detentions and confiscate inappropriate items.
  • The power to use reasonable force to prevent students from hurting themselves or others, from damaging property, or from causing disorder. However, the law prevents the use of reasonable force as a punishment.
  • The power to search students or their possessions without consent for prohibited items. These include knives or weapons; alcohol; illegal drugs; stolen items; tobacco and cigarette papers; fireworks and pornographic images. The list also includes any article that teachers reasonably suspect has been or is likely to be used to commit an offence, cause personal injury or damage to property.

How teachers can help prevent acts of violence

UNESCO released Stopping Violence in Schools: A Guide For Teachers in support of its Education For All movement. It examines the scale and impact of violence against students and offers practical suggestions to teachers for preventing any act of violence.

1. Develop an all-inclusive method to tackle violence

School violence is a complex issue which cannot be tackled by teachers alone. It requires the active involvement of parents, students, the school principal, community leaders and so on. Schools must develop a strategy involving these groups to reduce opportunities for violence. You can also teach non-violent conflict resolution. This is crucial for creating a safe school environment.

2. Educate yourself and students on violence prevention and conflict resolution skills

In line with the first point, it is important to learn human rights-based approaches to classroom management, peace education, and peaceful conflict resolution. You could also educate yourself on conflict mediation techniques and teach the same to your students. This will enable them to:

  • Identify the cause of their conflict
  • View the situation from other students’ perspective
  • Decide on options where students involved in violence get a chance to change their ways
  • Reach a practical arrangement

3. Make use of positive discipline techniques and methods

When making a list of classroom protocols, remember to frame them in a positive manner by highlighting acceptable ways to behave rather than telling students how not to behave. Make use of positive reinforcement techniques., such as an extra five minutes of play time, an extra credit point or some other small reward for good behaviour.

Similarly, make use of disciplinary measures that are educational rather than punishment. Such measures should focus on the student’s misbehaviour and its impact. Depending on the nature of the misconduct, teachers could make use of disciplinary methods such as:

  • Setting aside time after school to discuss misconduct
  • Changing students’ seating placement
  • Sending notes to parents or making home visits
  • Sending the student to the head teacher’s office

4. Build students’ resilience to deal with everyday challenges

It is important to build students’ resilience to everyday stresses and challenges by helping them develop positive relationships with their peers. Why? To reduce the likelihood of a student reacting violently or falling prey to violence. When you provide guidance and encourage constructive behaviour, you provide your students with a positive, alternative way to cope with life’s challenges. This can also be done in a more effective manner by using the help of counsellors.

Involve your students in such initiatives by devising creative role-play situations where they can practice how to cope with stressful or unfamiliar situations.

5. Make a game plan of safe spaces for students

Another way to make this initiative interesting for students is to conduct mapping exercises with them. They could identify which places are the safest and which ones are risky. Depending on these exercises, school staff can be alerted about dark corners, badly-lit areas, toilets and unsupervised stairways where students are at risk of violence. You could also work with other staff members to ensure a safe playground and passageways for students.

Make students your partners in preventing such acts. Get in touch with Securus today to know how you can protect students from online violence.

e-Safety – the balance between filtering and monitoring

Filtering and monitoring
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

As schools continue to reap the benefits of technology in the classroom they are also required to have reliable and robust filtering and monitoring systems in place. Some educational establishments have concerns about how they will implement e-Safety, especially as the government has recently made it mandatory. However, this needn’t be a difficult task to achieve. Here we outline what you need to know about filtering and monitoring.

Filtering and monitoring content – what is the difference?

A Filter is a piece of software that prevents illegal and inappropriate content from being accessed, and makes sure that children use the internet for the right purposes only. Modern filters are quite sophisticated and can successfully block dubious sites from passing through. There is a catch here though. A filter could end up blocking perfectly acceptable sites, if it comes across particular words that have been identified as objectionable.  Administrators can remove blocked sites from a filter’s blacklist, but it is a rather tedious and time consuming process.

With only a filtering system in place, students can be prevented from accessing certain sites, but the attempt to visit them would go largely unreported. The only way to keep track would be to manually check the browsing history of each student, which is not a practical method.

Monitoring, on the other hand is more of a reporting strategy – it tracks browsing activities of the students and records details of any inappropriate access on any part of the school network.  Monitoring ensures that pupils use the Internet for the purpose they are supposed to, as well as gaining deeper insights into their topics of study and remaining in touch with their teachers to discuss assignments. Therefore, monitoring will not prevent access but will alert the authorities about an attempt to access inappropriate sites. This helps schools keep an eye on any potential misuse of the Internet and deters students from using the school network for anything that isn’t relevant to their studies.

Why a combination of filtering and monitoring works best for schools

e-Safety aims to safeguard the privacy and wellbeing of pupils while they use technology in school, at the same time giving them enough freedom to benefit from it. The best way to achieve this is by using a combination of filtering and monitoring. Both methods can work together to block inappropriate sites and report any attempts to access them.

Securus has been instrumental in safeguarding young people online in the UK.  Our software effectively tracks all online activity and reports any violations of a school’s Acceptable Use Policy.  Since 2002, Securus has helped more than 3,500 educational establishments provide their pupils with the use of a secure and reliable network that allows them to enjoy the advantages of staying connected with the online world, without compromising their safety.

The key benefits of e-Safety monitoring for your school

Monitoring
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

The Internet has emerged as a critical educational tool and is an immensely valuable source of knowledge. It has widened the horizon of learning by providing easy access to information. However, this value also brings risks, especially for children. Monitoring software is a very effective way to ensure a positive and safe online experience for young people.

Here are some of the advantages of e-Safety monitoring for schools:

Prevents access to harmful content:

Internet based research is an integral part of learning these days. Students browse the Internet for projects and assignments. e-Safety monitoring ensures that children are not drawn into websites containing inappropriate content. By helping teachers understand what children are doing online, it empowers staff to take appropriate sanctions against technology misuse.

Helps adopt remedial measures:

e-Safety monitoring helps teachers to guide students whenever required. Monitoring provides not only a method of preventing children from gaining access to harmful material, but also provides the opportunity to educate them about the safe and appropriate use of technology.

Helps parents feel secure:

e-Safety helps to reassure parents that their child is free from online risks at school. It is important for schools to implement effective measures, so that students reap the positive benefits of technology.

Enhances students’ understanding of safe content:

Over a period of time, young people are able to recognise and understand appropriate content and good online behaviour. They will begin to develop their own perception of unsuitable content, even when browsing from home. e-Safety is not just about implementing control measures – it is about empowering the child from an early age with their own tools for web safety.

Legal necessity:

The revised Keeping Children Safe In Education document, that came into effect in September 2016, specifies that schools need to have “appropriate filtering and monitoring in place.” The framework aims to safeguard students by reducing risk. Monitoring software also helps schools avoid any potential legal liabilities.

Adopting effective e-Safety solutions helps give children a beneficial online experience. To find out more about e-Safety solutions, follow Securus on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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