Applying 2022 State of School Safety Findings to the 2022-23 School Year

Fostering a safe environment for kids to learn is a priority for many. To discuss the 2022 State of School Safety findings, host Michelle Dawn Mooney spoke with Michele Gay, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools.

Safe and Sound Schools was founded shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, which claimed 26 lives, including Gay’s first grade daughter. She reflected, “We have, you know, found a lot of inspiration in our little girl, and one of the things that inspires most about her to this day is her love of school.”

In honor of their daughter, Gay built an organization dedicated to providing the tools, resources, and guidance to support communities around the country and world. She added, “So that they can ensure that everybody is safe and sound and school can continue, which I’m positive is something that my little girl shines upon.”

Most recently, Safe and Sound Schools published the 2022 State of School Safety Report which is a survey providing responses from  school stakeholders, including law enforcement, school professionals, community members, parents, and students. This includes, “…Everybody and anybody who has to do with school because that, in our estimation, is how we can really get a handle on the issues and the challenges that our schools are facing,” said Gay. This survey aims to host and reflect a national conversation on school safety concerns. Gay added, “But also one of the most exciting things I think I see every year after the release of this report, is how it recharges the local level conversations. That’s where real change happens.”

Creating active local leadership allows public engagement on topics to increase which can lead to change that can trickle up. Gay noted one of the survey’s key takeaways was the “people first” approach, “…What I mean by that is…that people are the most valuable resource. That’s what our school stakeholders want to prioritize.”

Using a people first approach allows professionals to support reports, provide interventions, and host mental health awareness sessions for communities. In turn, this helps the community identify and assess potential behavioral risks or threats in the community and ultimately helps improve safety.

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