A large percentage of America’s biggest school districts are prioritizing security officers over school counselors. According to data collected by The 74, school security officers outnumber counselors in four out of the 10 public school districts in Chicago, New York, Houston, and Miami-Dade County. These are among America’s biggest school districts. Even though Philadelphia is not among the biggest school districts to be included in the report by The 74, data from the district’s website indicates that it follows the same trend as the other mentioned large districts. As of January 2017, Philadelphia had 134,000 students. The number of counselors was at 284 and 351 police officers.
Philadelphia School Demographic Statistics
An article published on the Notebook.org states that data from the National Survey of Children’s Health shows that the lower the income bracket of a child’s household, the higher the likelihood that child could have lived through a traumatic experience. This factor applies to practically more than half of children living in poverty. So essentially, places with higher poverty inevitably have a larger portion of students who require counseling. In addition, data from the 2015 U.S. census shows that Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate compared to the biggest school districts and the majority of the public school students are Black and Latino.
With such alarming statistics and escalation of violence in schools, strict measures need to be taken to stop the situation from getting worse. Below are some vital and effective pointers that Philadelphia schools can do to prevent crime and violence.
How Can Violence In Schools Be Stopped?
Improving the communication among students and teachers, students and counselors, students and parents and teachers and parents can really help. The interactions will help find out if students are experiencing any difficulties or troubles at school that may result in violence or may propel them to commit a crime. Counselors have the best chance of communicating with students as students tend to be more open with them than with teachers and parents.
Schools in Philly should set aside time where students interact with counselors and other students. The interaction should be in the form of a discussion on how to avoid crime in school. The hope of these discussions is to promote openness and sharing. Also, the schools can rethink the working groups and come up with programs that enable the white, black and Hispanic population to interact peacefully.
Supporting At-Risk Individuals
Another way of tackling crime rates is helping those that are already affected. Some students have experienced violence and this may have damaged their self-esteem. Furthermore, it may make them want to retaliate. Assigning case managers to youth shooting victims will guide them and support them during the trying time. Also, juveniles should be kept under close watch.
Enhancing Community Support Systems
Community support programs develop bonds within students from various racial backgrounds. By involving students in such programs, they get to see the value of the community and why it is best to stay away from violence. Schools in conjunction with communities should establish protocols for community outreach following violent incidents.
The service providers in a community should undergo trauma training to enable them to help those affected by school violence. The Philadelphia community should also seek to increase the number of mentors and create a mentoring support network.
Expanding Economic Opportunities
It goes without saying that in order to tackle crime, the economy should be looked at in terms of jobs and employment. One of the major causes of school crime in Philly is due to poverty. Establishing a social enterprise pilot program will benefit students who are at risk of committing crimes. Keeping them busy with jobs will go a long way in bringing the crime rates down. Philadelphia schools can partner with developers and employers to offer apprenticeship opportunities.
School Officials To Report Crimes
School officials should know that criminal laws also apply to schools. Hence, it is important to report them to the police whenever they occur. Reporting a crime is the first step to managing and preventing crimes and violence in schools. Acknowledging the problem leads to coming up with a solution. Following correct crime reporting procedures to police should be a priority for school administrators when a crime occurs. When that happens, the criminal justice system kicks in and it will work hand in hand with the school’s disciplinary system.
When both systems are engaged, a better solution is found. Also, if school officials accurately report crime incidents, the incidences are documented and the trends, causes, crime patterns, and other factors can be analyzed. The analysis helps to strategize ways of tackling crime and violence in Philadelphia schools.