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2-16-18 School Safety Supt. Letter / Resources

Parents often ask how they can best support their children and young adults as they too grapple with news of incomprehensible tragedy. The attached document from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP, 2016) provides some helpful information and age-specific guidance about talking with children about violence, a portion of which is summarized below with additional information specific to Northville Public Schools:
  • Reassure children that they are safe. Our school staff works together with students, families, police and fire departments and community leaders to keep our schools as safe as possible. Beginning in August, 2016, we adopted the ALICE protocol, and annually provide training and conduct safety drills with our students and staff. ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) empowers adults and students with strategies to keep themselves and each other safe – through access to more information, a greater emphasis on evacuating when possible, enhancing lockdown protocols, and providing age-appropriate lessons and information.
  • Our schools have a daily security plan in place. We limit access to our schools by locking our doors and monitoring who comes in and out, we practice different kinds of drills to keep everyone safe, and we ask everyone to be watchful and to report anything that seems out of the ordinary. We have the support of our local police and fire departments, including police liaison officers from Northville Township Police Department and the Novi Police Department, who work directly with our schools, students and families.
  • Everybody plays a role in keeping our school safe. Encourage students to be observant and let an adult know if they see or hear something that makes them feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened. There is a difference between reporting and tattling or gossiping. Our schools make sure students are aware of Michigan’s OK2SAY hotline, and offer the Department of Attorney General’s Michigan Cyber Safety Initiative program, with student safety content tailored specifically for each grade level.
  • Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing things you enjoy, sticking to a normal routine, being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
  • Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental illness. Adults (parents, teachers, police officers, doctors, faith leaders) work very hard to get these people help and keep them from hurting others. It is important for all of us to know how to get help if we feel really upset or angry and to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
  • Stay away from guns and other weapons. Tell an adult if you know someone has a gun. Access to guns is one of the leading risk factors for deadly violence.
  • Limit exposure to the media – radio, television, online. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that may be misunderstood.
  • Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can be a part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict resolution skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer are struggling with anger, depression or other emotions they cannot control. Programs like positive behavior support, peer mediators, The Leader in Me, and Peer to Peer programs are examples of ways that we work on these skills at school. We also have a powerful array of educational, extra-curricular and service opportunities created by our students, staff, family and community that bring students together across our Pre-K through 26 spectrum, both within and beyond the walls of our schools that foster respect, understanding, and connectedness.
Please know that our teachers and school staff have and will reinforce these same messages (including those referenced in the attached document) at school as appropriate. As always, our school principals, social workers, and counselors are available should you have questions, or would like help in addressing concerns your child may express.
As a district, we continue to review and evaluate our security measures on an ongoing basis. We are in the process of strengthening our visitor management protocols to more consistently require showing identification, stating name, and purpose of visit prior to entry, along with ensuring that community groups utilizing our elementary schools after-school follow our security protocols for student pick-up. We have also targeted longer term entry-way security redesign and facility improvements as part of our Bond 2017 proposal generously approved by our community in November, 2017. We appreciate your ongoing feedback and cooperation in following safety protocols.
Thank you, as always, for partnering with Northville Public Schools to work together to keep our children safe, and able to focus on learning in a caring and supportive school environment.
Mary K. Gallagher
National Association of School Psychologists (2016) Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers.