New York State gun laws are designed to keep the public, including our children, safe from gun violence. They crack down on possession of a gun on school grounds or a school bus and also supports school districts in implementing effective school safety plans. A few simple provisions will ensure that our schools are safe environments where children can learn, grow, and be protected from violence.
School Safety Improvement Team
Keeping children safe at school starts with coordinated planning between the school administrators and first responders. Following the Sandy Hook shooting, the New York State SAFE Act created the School Safety Improvement Team (SSIT) comprised of experts from the Division of Homeland and Security and Emergency Services, the State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the State Education Department.
Working with school administrators and local law enforcement, the team works with school districts to identify areas of improvement in the Building Level Emergency Response Plan (BLERP). Since the culmination of the SSIT, they have developed an Emergency Response Plan Template to provide districts with an outline for high-quality emergency response plans, created an online submission process, developed common language emergency response terminology, developed guidelines on door locks, door barricading policy, and physical security, and much more.
- Don't use violence to settle disputes.
- Don't carry weapons to school.
- Report crimes or suspicious activities to school authorities, parents, or the police.
- Tell a school official immediately if you see another student with a weapon.
- Tell a teacher, parent or trusted adult if you're worried about a bully.
- Learn safe routes for traveling to and from school. Know where you can seek help if you need it.
- Get involved in your school's anti-violence programs, and If there isn't a program at your school, help start one.
- Educate your children on how to resolve disputes and avoid violence.
- Teach your children how to reduce their risks of becoming crime victims.
- Know where your kids are, what they are doing, and who they are with at all times.
- Set clear rules in advance about acceptable activities.
- Ask your children about what goes on during the school day. Listen to what they say and take their concerns and worries seriously.
- Do not allow your child to carry weapons.
- Become involved in your child's school activities.
For School Staff
- Evaluate your school's safety objectively, and set targets for improvement.
- Develop good security procedures and response plans for emergencies.
- Train school personnel in conflict resolution, and identifying potentially troubled students.
- Encourage students to talk about concerns and listen to what they say.
- If a student makes a threat of violence, take him or her seriously, and address the problem immediately.
- When something violent and frightening happens at school or in the community, take time to talk about it with the students. Get help from trained counselors if necessary.
- School officials can seek an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) under the State’s Red Flag law if they believe a student or individual may be showing signs of being a threat to themselves or others. An ERPO will prevent this individual from purchasing or possessing any guns, and requires surrender of any guns they currently own. Here's more information on how to file an ERPO application.
For the Community
- Law enforcement can engage with local schools and suggest ways to make schools safer.
- Community-based groups, church organizations, and other service groups should provide counseling, extended learning programs, before- and after- school activities, and other community crime prevention programs.
- Local businesses can provide apprenticeship programs, participate in adopt-a-school programs, or serve as mentors to area students.
- Colleges and universities can offer conflict management courses to teachers or assist school officials in implementing violence prevention curricula.
**Information from National Crime Prevention Council, Working Together to Create Safer Schools
Bullying behavior may seem insignificant compared to kids bringing guns to school, but the fact is that your child is much more likely to be affected by bullying than gun violence. Bullying is often dismissed as part of growing up, but it may be an early form of aggressive, violent behavior. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, nearly 60 percent of boys who researchers classified as bullies in grades six through nine were convicted of at least one crime by age 24. Bullies often cause serious problems that schools, families, and neighbors ignore, and fears and anxieties about bullies can cause some children to avoid school, carry a weapon for protection, or even commit more violent activity.
What You Can Do
- Listen to children and encourage them to talk about their worries, concerns and fears.
- Take children’s complaints of bullying seriously. Children are often afraid or ashamed to tell anyone that they have been bullied, so listen to their complaints.
- Watch for symptoms that children may be bullying victims, such as withdrawal, a drop in grades, torn clothes, or needing extra money or supplies.
- Alert the school if you think that your children are being bullied.
- Maintain a positive, supportive, culture at home.
- Help children learn the social skills he or she needs to make friends. A confident, resourceful child who has friends is less likely to be bullied or to bully others.
- Provide opportunities for children to talk about bullying, perhaps when watching TV together, reading aloud, playing a game, or going to the park or a movie.
- Recognize that bullies may be acting out feelings of insecurity, anger, or loneliness. If your child is a bully, seek professional help from a school counselor or child psychologist.
**Information from National Crime Prevention Council, Bullies: A Serious Problem for Kids