DoDEA implemented the Safe Schools Program in School Year 99-00, after an overwhelming approval was received from DoDDS and DDESS Superintendents. It was coordinated with the Dependents Education Council, European Schools Council Working Group, Deputy Directors, and Service Components.
The Safe Schools Program provides a systematic approach to counter school violence, crime, and the threat of terrorism. It also provides each school with the means to enhance the safety and security of its students, staff, facilities, and operations. The program guidance provides a means of identification, intervention, and prevention of violence; the identification and application of crime prevention techniques, and the application of DoDI 2000.16, "DoD Combating Terrorism Standards" within the DoDEA school system. The program emphasizes risk reduction planning - what administrators can do before an incident, to prevent it from happening and/or reduce the effects of one, if one should occur; and incident response planning, how to respond to an incident - evacuate, lockdown, shelter-in-place, or take cover.
The Safe Schools Program consists of many components for use by each school in the DoDEA system. These components include:
- DoDEA's Safe Schools Handbook describes the Safe School Planning process and provides tools to help administrators review policy, program and physical security measures; establish security objectives; and develop a plan. The handbook also includes reference information about prevention programs, physical security, best practices, and antiterrorism planning.
- A DoDEA guide to Intervention Strategies and Prevention Programs Guides. These Guides include programs such as anti-bullying, behavior management, conflict resolution, gang prevention, life skills development, parental involvement, sexual harassment prevention, character education, substance abuse, and suicide prevention.
- A DoDEA guide for the school level application of DoDI 2000.16 "DoD Combating Terrorism Standards". This includes emergency management planning and DoD standards application guidance and checklist, as applicable for schools.
- Training in the use and application of the handbook, its tools, strategies and DoD Antiterrorism program management and standards. This training is intended for all DoDDS and DDESS principals and assistant principals.
- The Monthly Safe Schools Newsletter which reinforces and reviews concepts learned during training; shares DoDEA success stories; updates best practices and prevention programs; and provides information, resources, and contacts. More than 55 past editions of these newsletters can be found here. Included with these newsletters is an index which allows searches by the date of a newsletter, newsletter section, subject, or by the Safe Schools Handbook Table of Contents.
- The Safe Schools Hotline/Email at firstname.lastname@example.org that handles requests for information and provides technical assistance.
- Additional resources, such as the
- "What to Do in the First 20 Minutes" video which describes several factors that school administrators can consider when they are building their incident response plans - evacuation, transportation & relocation procedures; lockdown procedures; critical incident response kit; coordination between local security/law enforcement and school official
- "A Promise for Tomorrow" - A Youth Suicide Prevention Program designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and strategies that will enable them to help a friend (or themselves) who may be depressed or considering harming themselves. The kit includes a teacher's manual, video, public service announcement on CD-ROM, and student materials.
As a result of the Safe Schools Program, DoDEA students are free to learn because they do not fear for their personal safety. A DoDEA Customer Satisfaction Survey indicates that 54% of parents, 44% of teachers, and 50% of administrators felt that violence prevention should be a priority 1 rating. 35% of parents, teachers, and administrators agreed that student conduct (fighting, unruly classroom behavior) isn't a problem at their school. These responses appear to support the impression that DoDEA schools are safe and that the school community places a high priority on keeping them that way.