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Child Safety


Questions for Your Child’s School

Rather than relying on government, you can make at least as vigorous an inquiry of your child’s school as you would of your child’s babysitter. Below is a list of questions that can guide your evaluation of a school. The school should have a ready answer to every one of these questions. If they don’t, the mere fact of your asking (which can be done in writing) will compel them to consider the issues. There may be resources the school feels would improve the safety of children, possibly even resources they have long wanted, and your own participation in the process can help them implement those improvements.

  • Do you have a policy manual or teacher’s handbook? May I have a copy or review it here?
  • Is the safety of students the first item addressed in the policy or handbook? If not, why not?
  • Is the safety of students addressed at all?
  • Are there policies addressing violence, weapons, drug use, sexual abuse, child-on-child sexual abuse, unauthorized visitors?
  • Are background investigations performed on all staff?
  • What areas are reviewed during these background inquiries?
  • Who gathers the information?
  • Who in the administration reviews the information and determines the suitability for employment?
  • What are the criteria for disqualifying an applicant?
  • Does the screening process apply to all employees (teachers, janitors, lunchroom staff, security personnel, part-time employees, bus drivers, etc.)?
  • Is there a nurse on site at all times while children are present (including before and after school)?
  • What is the nurse’s education or training?
  • Can my child call me at any time?
  • May I visit my child at any time?
  • What is your policy for when to contact parents?
  • What are the parent notification procedures?
  • What are the student pick-up procedures?
  • How is it determined that someone other than me can pick up my child?
  • How does the school address special situations (custody disputes, child kidnapping concerns, etc.)?
  • Are older children separated from younger children during recess, lunch, rest-room breaks, etc.?
  • Are acts of violence or criminality at the school documented? Are statistics maintained?
  • May I review the statistics?
  • What violence or criminality has occurred at the school during the last three years?
  • Is there a regular briefing of teachers and administrators to discuss safety and security issues?
  • Are teachers formally notified when a child with a history of serious misconduct is introduced to their class?
  • What is the student-to-teacher ratio in class? During recess? During meals?
  • How are students supervised during visits to the rest-room?
  • Will I be informed of teacher misconduct that might have an impact on the safety or well-being of my child?
  • Are there security personnel on the premises?
  • Are security personnel provided with written policies and guidelines?
  • Is student safety the first issue addressed in the security policy and guidelines material? If not, why not?
  • Is there a special background investigation conducted on security personnel, and what does it encompass?
  • Is there any control over who can enter the grounds?
  • If there is an emergency in a classroom, how does the teacher summon help?
  • If there is an emergency on the playground, how does the teacher summon help?
  • What are the policies and procedures covering emergencies (fire, civil unrest, earthquake, violent intruder, etc.)?
  • How often are emergency drills performed?
  • What procedures are followed when a child is injured?
  • What hospital would my child be transported to in the event of a serious injury?
  • Can I designate a different hospital? A specific family doctor?
  • What police station responds to the school?
  • Who is the school’s liaison at the police department?
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