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Parent-Staffed Safety Committees in Schools

Family Safety Expert Advice from Gavin de Becker

Q: Do you know of any schools nationwide that have instituted a parent-staffed safety committee?

A: I don't know of any but I enthusiastically endorse this concept. A parent committee can assist the school in deciding how to respond to a given threat, as well as when to notify other parents.

In doing so, the committee can lift a huge burden from the principal. There is a precedent for bringing members of a community together to help with high-stakes decisions: a jury.

Members of a parent committee can be appointed by the school board or by an elected official. They can be chosen for their level-headedness, high regard in the community, even for their political connections -- it really doesn't matter.

The important qualification for each member is to be a parent of a student at the school. The committee can convene whenever a case meets some predetermined criteria. That may happen a few times a year, or it may never happen, but parents will get a great deal of comfort knowing they are represented in the process.

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Gavin de Becker is widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the prediction and management of violence. His work has earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy.


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