Emergency Preparedness, Safety, Security

K-12 School Safety Toolkit Aims to Boost Bystander Reporting

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) have released the K-12 Bystander Reporting Toolkit, a new resource to support K-12 schools in strengthening school safety reporting programs and encouraging bystander reporting among students and the broader school community.

The toolkit offers simple strategies and guidance K-12 schools and school districts can use to implement and enhance safety reporting programs and create a school environment where students are more willing and able to report concerns for the wellness and safety of themselves or others. It is designed to help school leaders create tailored, customized approaches that meet the needs of their unique communities.

Developed in collaboration with the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center, the toolkit emphasizes five key takeaways for schools to consider as part of their safety reporting efforts:

  1. Encourage bystanders to report concerns for the wellness and safety of themselves or others.
  2. Make reporting accessible and safe for the reporting community.
  3. Follow-up on reports and be transparent about the actions taken in response to reported concerns.
  4. Make reporting a part of daily school life.
  5. Create a positive climate where reporting is valued and respected.

“It is essential that we work closely with our partners to provide resources that can help prevent targeted school violence. Students and school communities deserve to be safe at school,” said CISA Executive Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Dr. David Mussington.

“Targeted school violence is preventable when communities facilitate bystander reporting and promote climates of safety and trust. Our research has shown that students are best positioned to identify and report concerning behaviors displayed by their classmates,” said NTAC Chief Dr. Lina Alathari. “Preventing school violence is everyone’s responsibility. The reporting programs described in this toolkit promote successful outcomes for all students while fostering a proactive approach to school safety.”

The toolkit is applicable to schools comprising of a range of student populations, geographical settings, and at various levels of maturity in their approach to reporting. In addition to best practices and strategies, the toolkit includes self-assessment worksheets and checklists and a list of related school safety resources and tools.

The toolkit represents the latest effort in CISA’s and the Secret Service’s shared school safety mission, which includes providing schools with actionable, practical, and cost-efficient steps toward preventing harm or acts of violence among our most important populations.

The toolkit is available here.

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