Creating a Safe Environment at School

It was annual drama day and the school students were preparing themselves to perform their respective activities. Zouheir had set his heart on playing a part in the school drama. He had always been the chosen one when it came to performing main characters.  However, this time, the part went to Ali, the new kid in class and he was left with a smaller role. It seemed that all his friends were impressed by Ali’s acting skills.

Zouheir not only felt deprived of his part, but also felt he would lose his friends to Ali. It was when Ali came backstage to change his costume that Zouheir had this ‘cool’ idea. He clicked a picture from his camera and showed it to his friends. Before the evening was over, almost his entire classmates had seen the picture.  Zouheir also uploads those pictures on an online forum (Facebook) and everyone starts commenting about it. Ali comes to know about it and he does not come to school the next day and the following days. The following week Zouheir heard that Ali was changing schools.

Consider for a moment if this had occurred at your school? Would you consider that the school had a responsible part to play in this scenario? Who would you hold accountable for Ali’s experience? If Ali had resorted to any extreme measures in his reaction to the experience, would the school be responsible? As an educator how would you react to this incident?

Playing pranks on others is common at school; however, with digital devices now the main medium of communication, pranks are becoming meaner and more harmful. Now consider the other possibility. If Ali has a good support system in his family and is able to cope with the negative experience and come back to school after a while, would it be right on his part to expect any measures from your side?

As an educator how would you ensure that such incidents do not occur at your school? Would Zouheir be the only one to be considered a culprit and not his friends?

To sustain a nurturing environment, educators and school management should work jointly to enforce acceptable behavior principles in the form of policies to create a safe environment for students.

To sustain a nurturing environment, you have to

  • Create a safe environment for students by defining what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
  • Promote a culture of trust and respect among students. Lead by example with colleagues and students.
  • Ensure that group conflicts are resolved by engaging them in joint activities.
  • Resolve incidents using role-play to help students empathize with fellow students.
  • Identify the root cause behind incidents and work towards resolving them. It could be lack of good parenting, inappropriate media exposure, wrong influence, miscommunication, etc.
  • Punish the inappropriate deed, but ensure that the child understands that he/she is valued as a person.

Remember, you can make a difference by nurturing a safe and disciplined environment.

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