ABC's of School Safety

Violence can happen anywhere, and schools must remain prepared to respond and to protect students and staff in our free and open society. Overwhelmingly, schools are safe and nurturing places for students, and school administrators are dedicated to making sure schools remain safe learning environments for all students. This document outlines some elements of school safety, organized under three categories: Awareness, Balance and Control.


  • Schools must remain aware of the threat of violence on campus and vigilant about protecting the safety of students. Particularly since the Columbine school shootings of 1999, schools nationwide have implemented comprehensive and integrated school safety and emergency response plans to minimize the threat of school-based shootings. These efforts have helped to thwart additional tragedies.
  • Schools should frequently review and update their school safety and emergency response plans to ensure they meet current needs.
  • Schools should make students, parents and staff aware of their school safety and emergency response plans and make the plans available on the school’s website.
  • Schools should train students and staff on safety protocols and warning signs. With heightened awareness, the school community will be better equipped to respond to—and, when possible, minimize or prevent—a crisis.


  • Schools should take a balanced approach to school safety, recognizing that a combination of strategies, rather than one or two extreme solutions, can be most effective in keeping students safe.
  • School safety measures should include “human connection” initiatives such as fostering information sharing, support networks, peer relationship building, counseling and parental involvement. Such efforts can help students feel connected to school, to their teachers and to each other. Benefits may include increased ability to recognize and report security concerns.
  • Schools should balance the need to secure school facilities with the need to maintain an open space for learning.
  • School leaders should remind the public that schools are overwhelmingly safe environments for children; a very small fraction of violent crimes occur in schools. However, schools must and will continue their efforts to make schools safe places.


  • Schools need to control access to the learning environment.
  • Schools nationwide have made campus safety a priority. Schools must continue to implement school safety controls.
  • School safety efforts should take into account the features of the school and the surrounding community. Safety measures may include hiring school safety officers, maintaining a strong school visitor policy, limiting school entry points and conducting periodic emergency response drills.
  • As a first step, Congress should quickly restore funding to at least the FY 2003 level for the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program to ensure that schools can implement effective school safety measures. As a next step, Congress should increase funding for the program so schools can hire school resource officers and offer in-service school safety training to staff.

School Safety Resources

American Counseling Association - Resources for Crisis Counseling
Resources from the association of professional counselors.

American School Counselor Association - School Shooting Resources
ASCA has released a series of tips as well as resources and publications for families and communities across the nation.

Center for the Prevention of School Violence
A resource center and "think tank" for efforts that promote safer schools and foster positive youth development.

The Center for Schools and Communities
The Center's work focuses on prevention and intervention initiatives operated by schools, organizations and agencies serving children, youth and families.

Educational Research Service E-Knowledge Portal
Search for school safety resources for educators.

National Association for College Admission Counseling - Catastrophic Events Page
Designed to manage information and serve as a clearinghouse for college and university admission offices in the event of a catastrophe.

National Association of School Resource Officers A not-for-profit organization for school based law enforcement officers, school administrators, and school security/safety professionals working as partners to protect students, school faculty and staff and the schools they attend.

National Association for School Psychologists - Crisis and Safety Resources
Crisis resources, including Tips for School Administrators for Reinforcing School Safety, from the organization that represents and supports school psychology.

National Defense University (Word)
“Weathering the Storm: Leading Your Organization Through a Pandemic” from the National Defense University’s Center for Technology and National Security Policy offers a strategic road map for organizational planning, readiness and management.

National School Safety Center
An advocate for safe, secure and peaceful schools worldwide and as a catalyst for the prevention of school crime and violence.

National School Safety and Security Services
A consulting firm specializing in school security and school emergency/crisis preparedness training, school security assessments, and school safety consulting for K-12 schools and public safety providers.

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
Provides current information developed by Federal agencies or with Federal support pertaining to youth violence.

School Crisis Crisis Guide: Help and Healing in a Time of Crisis
This guide from the National Education Association Health Information Network is designed to help school district administrators and principals to keep schools safe.

U.S. Department of Education School Preparedness Webcast
View an free archived recording of a webcast on school preparedness from Sept. 27, 2007.