High school students are old enough to take on a greater measure of responsibility for keeping themselves safe. This article touches on some of the safety issues high school students face and some of the approaches they can take to stay safe.
Staying Safe in High School
In order to stay safe, here are some things that high school students can keep in mind:
- Know where you are. As they move from class to class, students should be aware of the location of the nearest exit, the nearest hand sanitizer, and the nearest fire alarm. They don't need to be obsessive about this: they just need to be mindful.
- Get to know the people around you. By learning about their peers and the school's faculty and staff, students will learn whom they can trust and whom they can rely on should a safety issue arise. Beyond that, knowing the people you're with helps to provide a sense of belonging.
- Know the rules. It's impossible to avoid behaviors like bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, if you don't have a good understanding of what they are. Read the school's policy or ask a guidance counselor if you are unsure. In addition, students should know policies on what is considered a weapon (some students have received detention or suspension for unintentionally violating such policies), the guidelines for the school dress-code, and any other school rules that they are expected to follow.
- Report suspicious, wrong, risky, and dangerous behavior. Even students who are not in themselves engaging in unsafe behaviors can contribute to an atmosphere of unrest and danger if they don't report problems that they see. Reports can be given anonymously, and they need to know that if they see something suspicious, they don't have to be sure that it was wrong: the school officials who investigate are the ones responsible for determining that.
- Keep yourself out of trouble. In avoiding problematic behaviors such as acting out, harassment, drug use, gang membership, bullying, rumor-mongering, and the like, students not only keep themselves on the straight and narrow, but also set a good example and help to create a good learning atmosphere for others.
- Follow all safety protocols. When students take classes like chemistry, shop, and stage design, they work with equipment and materials that can cause injury. It is essential for their own safety and the safety of others that they follow all the guidelines for handling equipment and materials and wear the proper safety garb, and that they know where first aid kits are and how to use them.
- In physical education classes and as members of athletic teams, particularly when engaged in contact sports, it is essential for students to show regard for the safety of themselves and others by following all training practices, including wearing appropriate and properly adjusted equipment, and following guidelines for stretching and strength building before engaging in joint activities.
- Be a Safe Driver or Passenger. Not only on the streets, but especially in the school parking lots where there are many pedestrians walking in unpredictable patterns, safe driving is a key issue for high school students whose transport to school is a student-driven automobile. Automobile passengers help keep everyone safe by wearing seatbelts and not distracting the driver. School bus passengers help keep everyone safe by entering and exiting the bus in an orderly manner, sitting properly in bus seats with only the acceptable number of students per seat, avoiding distracting behavior, and following the bus driver's directions at all times.
- Plan Your Out. In the course of your high school career, you may be invited to try drugs, alcohol, or tobacco or engage in a behavior that is against the rules, risky, or dangerous. If you know what your answer and behavior will be beforehand, you'll be less off guard if such a thing happens.