Education advocates hope Tennessee’s school safety toolkit leads to more change

KNOXVILLE, TN (WATE) School safety concerns have grown over time in East Tennessee as it has become a national issue due to recent tragic events that have occurred on school grounds across the country. Governor Bill Lee officially launched the School Safety Toolkit through the SafeTN app in hopes of ensuring families have the resources and tools they need to keep their students safe.

“Earlier this year, I signed an executive order to make schools safer across the state, and one of our goals was to create a new resource and engagement guide for Tennessee families,” said Governor Lee.

One of the strengths of the toolkit is to allow students, parents, teachers and the general public to anonymously report any behavior related to assaults, threats and other forms of violence. It’s an effort that state PTA Chairman Dwight Hunter says will hopefully move the conversation about school district safety forward.

“I hope this puts us on the right track for more involved family and community engagement. This is one of the things I see lacking across the state in many schools,” Hunter said.

Another factor in the toolkit is to provide resources for students and families. One such resource is about mental health.

“Unfortunately, in many of our communities there are often barriers to mental health access and treatment. So this service, this resource helps alleviate those barriers by providing those mental health supports in the school setting,” said Shannon Dow of the McNabb Center as Senior Director of Blount County Services.

A student’s mental state is tied to school safety, which is why Dow is happy to see all the information students may need in one place.

“Mental health and its impact on the safety and well-being of our children is very important,” Dow said. “Mental health can impact a child’s ability to connect, to engage with their peers, with their caregivers and the adults in their life.”

It is the possibility of reporting incidents and having resources at the click of a button that makes this toolbox a leeway to act before it is too late.

“It is really important that the parents and guardians of their students and children are involved in the decision making, and that is one of the most important decisions that can be made by a school is to create a safe environment, to create a safe harbor,” Hunter said. .

Other resources and information can be found in the School Safety Toolkit through the SafetyTN app.

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