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Elementary School Safety

In this elementary school safety article many common safety rules that parents, students, faculty, and staff should all be aware of. are discussed. Learn about safety in an emergency, dealing with family issues, violence, bullying, hate crimes, and more.

Partly because it may be a child’s first extended experience outside of the home, elementary school safety is an important consideration. Parents and students, along with faculty and staff, all bear some responsibility for elementary school safety. This article will discuss several important aspects of safety for students of elementary school age.


One element of elementary school safety involves getting to and from school. Whether children walk or take a school bus, if they are traveling without parental supervision, they have new responsibilities and things to be aware of. Students who walk to school need to be aware of traffic rules and regulations and both understand and follow the indications that may be given them by police, crossing guards, or other personnel who are in place to make their travel safe.

Students who ride a school bus, need to know how to conduct themselves as pedestrians going to and from the bus, especially if they have to cross the road to get to or from the bus stop. They also need to understand the proper way to sit in a school bus and know the importance of following the bus driver’s instructions and not acting in a distracting way.

Students are very likely to touch the seats and seat handles on the bus, and smaller children may also steady themselves with the railing as they ascend and descend. Therefore, another safety element to consider is that children not touch their faces or other people while on the bus, and wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer when they arrive at school to avoid spreading germs. A sick child should not, of course, be going to school, but if a child has to cough or sneeze, s/he should know how to properly cover his or her nose and/or mouth to avoid spreading germs.

Safety During an Emergency

There are a variety of types of safety that come into play at an elementary school that may be new to students. Just given the number of students in a typical elementary school building, the importance of listening and following directions is hard to over-estimate. Students should know what the fire alarm sounds like and which exits to use from the various places they might be in the building. If the school has lock-down procedures, students should know in advance what will happen and how they are supposed to behave.

Safety When There Are Family Issues

If the child is the subject of a restraining order or a custody agreement that limits contact with certain people, whether family members or others, it is essential that the school be notified of the precise details of the situation to avoid problems. The child should also be aware of any person that they should not leave school with. Students should know how to identify trusted adults within the school from whom they can get help if something goes wrong for them.

Safety Issues With Violence

Elementary schools and combined level schools are less likely than secondary schools to have school violence, and larger schools were more likely to have a violent incident than smaller schools, according to a Bureau of Justice report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2003. Students should know what to do if they see a weapon or witness any type of violence. Students also need to know that in school, the kind of rough-housing that may occur among siblings at home is not appropriate and that in most cases, they should not be touching other students.

Safety Issues With Bullying and Hate Crimes

Very young students may not even be able to grasp the notion of a hate crime or bullying. They may not understand the difference between saying another person is blond or has brown eyes and saying that the person is fat or has dark skin. Younger children also tend to repeat what they hear uncritically, and may use words to defend themselves because they don’t have a good understanding of how to settle an argument. A clear, age-appropriate discussion of expectations, made as concrete as possible, is important.

Safety Issues With Theft

Theft occurs at all school levels, so in general, it’s best it students don’t take valuable items to school. If the student needs to have a valuable item - such as a student with a disability who needs a piece of equipment all day every day - then school personnel should be aware of the need, and the item should be registered and - if appropriate - insured. Other items that may be desired for a special occasion or show and tell may be able to be put in a special place for safe-keeping or picked up by a parent.

Safety Issues with Mixed Level Schools

If elementary students are in a building shared with other students, they may be party to more safety issues than otherwise, not only in school, but also on the school bus or as they walk to school. In the proximity of older students, younger students may be exposed to more violence, bullying, and substance abuse or they may feel mentored and protected, particularly if they are in a building with older siblings or neighbors.