“When it comes to increasing safety in our schools, naming the injustices and violence that shape the lives of individuals and institutions is essential if school reformers are to engage in their work with the clarity, courage and consciousness appropriate to the scale of the task.”
– Elijah Hawkes, Director for School Leadership Programs
This fall a special issue of the International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies featured a symposium of articles on the topic of school safety and violence prevention in schools. The symposium was anchored by articles by Nancy Rappaport, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Jonathan Cohen of the International Observatory of School Climate and Violence Prevention.
UVEI’s Director of School Leadership Programs, Elijah Hawkes, was invited to contribute to the special issue. Here’s a short excerpt from Elijah’s article.
School Safety Starts in the Classroom
The two papers that anchor this journal’s discussion both emphasize the importance of viewing school safety in the broader socio-economic and environmental circumstances in which schools reside.
As Jonathan Cohen writes, too often we focus efforts to improve safety in schools on bullying, weapons and shootings, but “there is a significantly wider spectrum of experiences that undermine children feeling safe and being safe” (Cohen, 2021). Cohen names the fatal coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters and violence in streets and homes as contexts relevant to any discussion of safety inside our schools.
Nancy Rappaport, in her paper, names our nation’s systemic racism as an unmistakable factor contributing to a lack of safety in schools. She recounts her evaluation of risk for violence in a student, noting that “throughout the assessment there were indications of how race was implicitly and explicitly shaping interactions” (Rappaport, 2021).
When it comes to increasing safety in our schools, naming the injustices and violence that shape the lives of individuals and institutions is essential if school reformers are to engage in their work with the clarity, courage and consciousness appropriate to the scale of the task.
Cohen and Rappaport name or allude to a variety of tools, strategies, and perspectives needed when approaching the task of making schools safe. In my experience, instructional strategies—what teachers do day-to-day in the classroom and structures that support teachers with daily instruction—are among the most important when it comes to helping a school become a healthy and bonded community.
Read the full paper at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/aps.1721 or contact Elijah at firstname.lastname@example.org