Center for Injury Research and Prevention

School Safety

TitleSchool Safety
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsCowell JM, McDonald CC
JournalJ Sch Nurs
Date Published07/2018
Type of Articlejournal
Alternate JournalJ Sch Nurs
Full Text

The most recent shootings at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, TX, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, have seized the attention of the nation and world. There are no words to adequately capture the horror and loss in such events. It serves as a grim reminder that schools are not always the safe haven we desire for our children to learn and grow.

School safety encompasses a wide range of behaviors, programs, and risk reduction efforts to ensure school children can achieve their full potential in a safe environment. Traumatic events like the Santa Fe and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings remind us to address and account for all levels of prevention. With news of a school shooting, active school shooter protocols are reviewed and nurses sometimes access resources like that of the National Association of School Nurses, which provides tips on responding to an active shooter ( The efforts to support and promote school safety do not stop with such activities. Addressing safety also includes a comprehensive review of school climate, in particular primary prevention, that can include evaluation of antibullying programs, the availability of mental health resources, and assessment of weapon carrying in the school.

Just as the role of the school nurse is complex and multifaceted, school safety is not singularly about violence. School nurses have learned that natural disasters, medical emergencies, and communicable disease outbreaks require emergency preparedness programs (Hoffman & Silverberg, 2018). Environmental exposures can also impact school children insidiously, creating an unsafe learning and growing environment (Hanna-Attisha, LaChance, Sadler, & Schnepp, 2016Mazer, Vann, Lamanna, & Davison, 2014). In the Information Age, children are exposed to many positive opportunities but also great risk. Risks that have emerged are texting and driving, sexting, and cyberbullying, resulting in mental health problems, suicide, and a rise in commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth (Byrne, Vessey, & Pfeifer, 2018).

PubMed ID29986627