Do You Feel Safe on the Job?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms. I, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Of course we'd hope to feel safe at our workplace, however, things still happen. For those of you who work at schools in rough, crime-ridden areas, what extra things do you do to feel safer? Does anyone have security guards who walk people to their cars at the end of the day? I guess teachers can't really carry around mace or pepper spray, right? (Even though they'd probably feel better if they could!) Does anyone have any scary incidences occur on campus?

    I feel pretty safe in the schools in my dist & I've worked at many on a long-term basis. I'm definitely not looking over my shoulder walking around campus & there's no reason for me to be slightly off campus (on foot or in my car), unless it's a VERY rare time I'm going to lunch w/ someone (which I'd be in the car). Plus, I'm nev at any high schools, so I don't need to worry about male students overpowering me. When work's over, I'm in my car driving back to my area, there's no reason to linger.

    I've been working for my dist since 1999 & I heard of a car break-in in the school parking lot once, maybe twice. Once yrs before that, a school I was at that day was on lockdown, but nothing came of it. I'm sure a couple more things happen than what I hear about.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I feel totally safe at work.

    That said, crime doesn't respect neighborhoods or zip codes. The fact that I've been safe up to now doesn't imply that I will be tomorrow.

    In fact here's a stupid idiocyncrasy I have: anytime I'm working at night, I ALWAYS open the trunk of my van and check to make sure no one is there. (Totally irrational, I know.) Why someone would choose to break into and hide in my locked van, of all the cars in our parking lot on a typical parent night is beyond me, but I always check anyway. Otherwise, that 12 minute drive home would be an eternity.

    I think it's wise to always be aware of your surroundings, no matter how "safe" an area you're in. Whether it's work or Disney World or downtown NYC, it makes sense to be aware. Not paranoid, simply aware, and to exercise good sense. Almost all "bad" areas were safe until one day when something happened.

    Every day I drive by a gas station in a good neighborhood. It's certainly considered "safe" And it was, until one night when one of our former students and his buddy decided to hold the place up. The buddy beat the attendant to death with a baseball bat, and my former student drove the getaway car. So yeah, it's safe, except for that one night when someone was murdered for $100 in a cash register.

    We have no security guards, nothing of the sort. But if I were concerned, I would have absolutely no qualms about asking one of the guys-- a teacher, one of the brothers or a maintainence guy- to walk me to my car.
     
  4. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    I work in a large city. I also commute by bus/train. I've worked in three schools- It gets dark here at 4:15 in the winter - (depressing I know). The first school I worked in was in a semi-iffy area. However, I never really felt unsafe. The second school I worked in was in the most crime or 2nd most crime ridden area of the city. When I left before dark I'd wait for the bus right across from the school and random people would tell me i shouldn't be waiting for the bus by myself and they'd wait with me. We had city year and if I left after dark I would walk with them the 5 blocks to the train station and take the train instead of the bus. They were not going to be at the school the next year- the commute was VERY long and I looked for another school. (I had left my prior school due to it being closed).
    Now I work in a "gentrified" area- but there is still gang activity and other things you would suspect in a large city. I am probably less cautious than I should be, but I feel safe most of the time. We have had odd guys hang out in our parking lot and our janitorial staff will watch people walk to their cars if they need it.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I have my moments.

    We don't have security...wish we did.

    I won't get into the details, but our students have openly made death threats against teachers, some being very specific with how the murder would take place, and there are no serious consequences. We had one teacher in the hospital this year because of a student. ETA: We also have healthy population of insane parents, and I have certainly been uneasy with this fact. We had a parent with a gun on campus not very long ago.

    So, yeah, I have my moments when I don't feel safe.
     
  6. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    The only time I didn't feel safe was when a crazy parent was upset. If this parent came into the building, my secretary was ready to call the police (it was a parent of a child in my classroom). I was really nervous all morning, but nothing ever happened.
     
  7. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    That makes me so sick. :(
     
  8. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I feel totally safe at work.
     
  9. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    And, how did you know these "random" people were alright? If some strange man I didn't know may like it's so unsafe & offered to wait w/ me, I'd be leery of him too.

    Yikes! Being taught by the same people they're making death threats & doing harm to...talk about zero gratitude! :eek::mad:
     
  10. jwteacher

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    Sometimes at night, teachers wait until I leave because they know no one would mess with me. :D
     
  11. FourSquare

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    I just got done teaching in Englewood, Chicago. There were gun shots on a regular basis, sometimes when I was just standing at the school door waiting for someone to let me in. I tried to park as close to the building as possible and be aware of my surroundings. However, I don't think it's healthy to live in fear. You do what you gotta do. I did not feel unsafe doing my job in the actual school building.
     
  12. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    I guess I didn't. But I didn't specify they were men either- most were women. I was also on a main street and the buses run every 10 - 15 minutes. I needed a job. I was picky and wanted to teach pre-k. It was the card that was dealt for me. I did it for a year.
     
  13. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Last year, summer had arrived and just my office staff and myself were working. I headed to the outdoor bathroom. While in the bathroom, I realized someone was trying to enter through the door...thought that was strange.

    I was nervous for some reason...the school was so empty. When I opened the door, I saw a gangsta type man and both of my secretaries. One secretary has a pair of sharp scissors with her. Fortunately, they had seen him cutting through our school yard to get to the part next door. From the window, they saw him watch me enter the bathroom, turn around and head towards the direction of the bathroom. Very scary.

    When confronted, he asked us if he could use the restroom. We told him to use the public restroom at the park and he walked off. We were a bit shook up so we decided to grab our things and call it a day. About 10 minutes later, we were all in our cars and here he comes in a car...with two friends, pulling into our circle driveway where our cars were.

    This time we took his plates and called the police. He saw us in our cars and circled the neighborhood twice and then finally left.

    Talk about scary....I've often wondered how different the outcome of that day could have been. :eek:hmy:
     
  14. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    That unnerves me just reading it, Tiffany!
     
  15. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    My school went crazy on safety this year for some reason and it left me a little paranoid. Especially when they made us participate in a shooting reenactment drill for a PD. All I learned from that day is you really never know when or where a shooting might occur and you really can't control or predict it happening in your school. It was a little unsettling. I kind of preferred the ignorance is bliss attitude.
     
  16. JustMe

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    silver, when I was in high school (during Columbine and other horrible episodes) we had several lock-down drills...which was wise. I felt it was perhaps a little too realistic, though, when they had "actors" with weapons "take students hostage" to show how easy it would be do to so. In general, my school was a little on the dramatic side. They staged an elaborate crash outside of the building once and we were horrified...a car that looked as though no one could have survived, ambulance, and police...and then we learned it involved alcohol...and then we learned it was all fake. That was, I guess, supposed to curb the crime. They also had "Grim Reaper" come into classrooms silently and point his nasty finger at random students and then curled his finger towards himself as if to say "follow me". Those students he collected were held in a separate room all day to demonstrate the number of alcohol-related deaths in a given time period...or something along those lines.

    Anyway, point is, I agree that things can be taken to the extreme. Paranoia isn't a healthy state.
     
  17. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    There is a scene in Bowling for Columbine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V45HCN4mGYE&feature=related that they reenaccted right in front of us during the PD - except the kid had a hoodie on and a lot more weapons, including knives. Now I am always paranoid about if a kid might have a weapon. I have a few kids that are pretty unstable.
     
  18. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I very much remember that scene! Wow...
     
  19. Kangaroo22

    Kangaroo22 Virtuoso

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    I've felt safe at all of the places I've worked. I basically always feel comfortable wherever I am (even places that are thought of as less safe) as long as there are a few other people around, because I figure that any would-be criminals aren't going to try to do anything if there are other people around as witnesses.
     
  20. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    For those women who must walk to their cars.

    Even in a "nice" neighborhood, it can be risky. A person walking to their car is most vulnerable for many reasons. Someone can hide behind your car. Someone can break into your car and hide in it. Someone can hide behind other cars and sneak up on you. And once in your car, you are driving a $30,000 treasure that many thieves don't mind risking an armed robbery conviction in order to get.

    But there is one way around this dilemma: Bicycle.

    I'm sure you are now saying "What! Sarge has just gone over the edge bonkers with his human powered, two wheeled evangelism!"

    But stay with me. First of all, with a bike, you avoid one of the most dangerous parts of any journey from a crime standpoint: The parking lot walk of danger. At my school, I keep my bike in my classroom. The moment I leave the building, I'm moving at 20mph through the parking lot. A hard target for any evildoer. Sneaking up from behind is impossible - nobody can run that fast. Ambush? Maybe if they knew exactly where I was going to ride. But they won't. But even then, the assailant would be risking injury to themselves in order to take me down. And once out of the parking lot, they'd have to walk out into the street in front of me. They might knock me down. I might knock them down. In the middle of the street. Darwin Award, Stupid Criminal Database waiting to happen.

    There have been incidents where people were mugged for their bikes. But those are very rare. Why risk a violent felony conviction when you can get some bolt cutters face nothing more than a property crime conviction. You are far more likely to be robbed for your $50,000 Escalade than your $500 Trek. That's because the easiest way to steal a car nowadays is by pointing a gun at the driver. The easiest way to steal a bicycle is to wait until the owner goes away.
     
  21. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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  22. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    We've done home visits before the start of the school year before. I won't do them. Lots of thoughts on that...
     
  23. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Head Start requires them. The CPS Head Starts got the okay to be able to conduct them at schools because the principals didn't want to be responsible for their teachers in other people's homes. I am not sure our new "leadership" quite has a clue what some of our neighborhoods are like. Fortunately nearly all of the high rise projects have been torn down, but there are still several unsafe areas. Still several low rise projects. Plus we're a LARGE city. Many schools are "neighborhood" but many are also "citywide" attendance.
     
  24. MissT34

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    I live in deeeeeeep South TX. Minutes away from the Mexican border. The violence that is currently burderning our neighboring country definately affects us on the US side. There's been many, many situations where drug smugglers are on the run, or theres man hunts that cause school districts to go on lockdown. Fortunately, law enforcement remains in close contact with all school districts around here. but it is still a scary thought.
     
  25. teach'ntx

    teach'ntx Comrade

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    It is recommended that we are out of school and the neighborhood by dark. If it is even close to dusk, I look for someone to walk with. However, the worst this year was when I had a dad ask me out his son's behavior and increase in fighting. I responded with, "today he told that class that his dad said he should hit girls. That boys were suppose to hit girls". From discussions with my student, I am sure this man has hit his wife on multiple occassions and here I was calling him out eye to eye. I also believe he has gang connections. Luckily, he responded in a very respectful manner, he requested help for his son.
    However, I am still very wary of this man.
    Also, we currently have a student in the hospital in critical condition. However, that was due to a father which can happen anywhere.....
     
  26. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    I feel fairly safe, but am cautious. My doorknob is always in lock position - all I have to do is slam it shut. That said, we do have a blind main door - it is unlocked with a sign to report to the main office. There is nothing to stop someone from coming in and not reporting - there is no window in the office overlooking the entrance to the building. I believe a door is left open in the back of the building so kids can get in and out at gym time and to access the portable classroom. We do not have guards. We have a sheriff's deputy (safety officer) who splits his time between the elementary, middle, and high school campuses.

    We had a lock-down recently just 15 minutes before the end of the day. We sat huddled in dark classrooms, with shuttered windows and locked doors for almost 15 min. Ends up we had a substitute custodian without a badge sitting in the library reading a paper till it was time to get to work. When the lock-down was announced, he disappeared. It wasn't until the camera tapes were reviewed that it was discovered who the person was. He left for the custodian room when the lock-down was announced and that was why the "intruder" was not located. It was sort of funny in the end, but was a good lesson for all of us and the students not to take safety for granted. It showed the parents and the students that we take their safety seriously.

    That said, yes, we do have security cameras, but there are many blind places. If I leave late, which is quite often, I'm always on the phone with my hubby. I figure at least I can describe what/who is going on if there is an issue. I live/teach in a rural area, but that is not saying problems can't happen here too.
     
  27. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Parents do not have to go to the office when they enter the building. I'm not even sure there is a sign telling them to, but either way they can very easily walk past the office unnoticed. I've had unexpected (unhappy) parent visitors during class...and I was livid that our school allows that! We also don't require name badges or stickers or anything of that sort for visitors.
     
  28. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I've mentioned several times that I used to stay at school until 7pm, 8pm, or even 9pm during my first two years teaching. I taught in a very scary part of town (high poverty, high crime, high gang population). Anyway, as soon as I'd lock my classroom door, I'd call my mom and talk to her until I made it safely to my car.

    Nowadays, there's absolutely no way I'd ever stay that late. I think I was definitely putting myself in danger!
     
  29. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    The only time I don't feel safe is when I get to work - it's still dark out and it's not a safe neighborhood. This year a young man was murdered at one corner of the school a few hours before school started. Last year a kid was killed in a drive by waiting for his bus. And plenty of other shootings within a few blocks of the school.

    Once I'm within the school matrix, though, I feel safe. We have several lockdowns a year for neighborhood activity, but no one has ever come onto the campus.
     
  30. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I feel 100% safe at school. I teach in a small, rural farming community. While crime and danger can still happen, I feel safe where I teach.
     
  31. Emily Bronte

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    I feel completely safe at work. But, I do have a friend who used to teach in a very crime-ridden area and she often told me that while she felt safe at school in the building she didn't feel safe driving in the neigborhood.
     
  32. Ms. I

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    My, my, my! My heart would have been racing!

    I can understand that!

    In all my 4 yrs of HS (1989-93), we never had any kind of lock-down drill or re-enactment of any kind.

    I don't like the idea of being exposed to the outside while travelling around. From time to time, I think how cool it would be to have a convertible, but then again, I wouldn't feel too safe w/the top down since anyone can just jump on in & on me! :eek:
     
  33. Rachael84

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    One neighborhood I taught in was one of the worst in the south Bronx area. On P-T night, it was dark and towards the end, right before we were going home. There was a gang fight right outside the school... bats and guns beating down people and cars. We had to make sure we weren't standing near the windows. :unsure:

    It never happened to me, but other teachers in that school were told by parents that they "better watch their backs when they leave the school" and that they're in so and so gang.
     
  34. Rachael84

    Rachael84 Rookie

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    One of the worst things you can do is talk on your cell phone while walking in a bad neighborhood. They catch you off guard. Street smarts...
     
  35. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    I worked in a crime-ridden neighborhood, I used to feel safe while there. Now if I were the only one in the building and the only one walking to my car during the night, that wasn't pleasant and I'd never do that again.
     
  36. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    I feel safe at work. Our building is locked, and visitors have to be buzzed in. All visitors, including parents, have to sign in when they get to the office, and we have security cameras all over the place.

    The neighborhood is fairly safe, and most of the kids live within walking distance, so the school families watch out for the staff. That is the really cool part about the neighborhood. On the other hand, it is gang territory, so you do have to watch it when you go to your car, especially after dark.

    One cool thing about gang parents(at least those that I deal with) though, is that they honestly don't want their kids in the gangs, and will get help for their children so that they don't end up in them. They want their kids to have a better life than they did. They will move heaven and earth to make sure it happens!
     
  37. ybmiuq

    ybmiuq Rookie

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    I have taught for LAUSD and in Arizona.
    In Los Angeles I saw guns and knives. The scariest shortly after being hired there in September. Anyway, I was driving home just a block from school. All traffic came to a stop. About 300 feet ahead was a huge gang fight. I was shocked yet people in other cars were yawning, reading the newspaper, not really paying attention. One student (I'd say mid-school) walked in front of my car. He dropped some cheap kitchen knife with probably about an 8 inch blade. As he reached down to pick it up I noticed he had blood in a line for about 12 inches all around his neck on one side.

    I quit and moved to what I thought was a quiet community in AZ. Turned out to be a political town where students seemed to run the politics and school. I tried to teach the important topics and had to leave out the rest. To them everything I taught was difficult and they seemed to think I was teaching that way because I was prejudiced. Every day I walked to that school and ran home after school. I ran up a hill, down a bunch of shinarump, accross a wash. Occasionally while going down the rocky slope, large stones, some as big as 6 inches across flew by my head. I kept reporting it to the principal. And while at school I would get these strange phone calls from someone. The person would just talk to me in a very creepy way. He would say "I want to kill you." I asked why and he would just say "I want to watch you die." This kind of behavior went on for years from 1993 until I left in 2003. My young children were afraid as our house (school housing) got broken into. All their toys were bagged up in my army duffle bag and sitting by the door. We must have fightened them away when we returned from town and they must have run out the back door.
    I keep forgiving. When we moved away we gave most of our stuff to the poor community.
    Another thing is the administration at a number of schools. Many teachers walk around in fear afraid to complain, especially in a place where it turned out there was a lot of embezzelment.
    I was brought up and worked on a farm. Even though we watched one small family farm after another fail, it was nothing like the fear in the city. Within a 3 mile radius of our small farm there were 20 other farms and everyone of them except one went out of business by the year 1990 because of all the government regulations. It is scary to lose a farm when there is nothing else to do unless you are a social genius. It was hard work and really the farmers couldn't complain - didn't have much of a voice back then in the 1960's. The "city-folk" ruled the country.
     
  38. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    I wouldn't say that I cower in fear, but I'm more than aware of the threats in our school and I keep that fact in the back of my mind.

    We have no metal detectors, but I've heard from some pretty reliable students that they could "name four or five kids carrying guns on them right now" during the school day.

    One of my students got into a fight in his class right before mine and a knife fell out of his bookbag as he was grabbing for it.

    Due to cutbacks, we no longer have security in the school (except during the lunch periods) and the administrators, in an effort to make themselves look good (like they have the school under control) have actively avoided handing out in-school or out-of-school suspensions.

    With their actions and philosophy in mind, I decline to intervene in a fight and risk getting a razor across the face, that's for darn sure!
     
  39. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    Unfortunately, I had an assistant who was verbally abusive towards myself and other staff. We all never knew what she was going to do next. I actually set up a "safe classroom" in an extra IEP meeting room, where I hid supplies, paper, extra worksheets, books, and games. I also put phone numbers for emergency personnel in the room, and covered the window with papers so that one could see out, but could not see in. If the assistant ever became physically violent, my plan was to move the students to the safe classroom. I also set up a secret communication code with other teachers and staff using red post-it notes. Fortunately (and unfortunately), she was transferred to another school.
     
  40. Bumble

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    I feel safe at my school during the day. People in the community generally respect our teachers. I never have my back turned while teaching. Also, putting off a tough persona works. Being timid attracts issues. I teach in a rough neighborhood that is continuing to get worse. Teachers walk out together if there is something going on in the community.
     
  41. paperheart

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    I don't feel safe 100% of the time. I work in the most dangerous neighborhood in a large city. I don't work past dark and I try to leave when the crowd leaves.

    I'm respectful of everyone at least in intention, but it nerve-wracking that you can't guarantee people will always interpret your actions positively.

    We have metal detectors, but its easy to get passed them if you wanted to especially in the morning. My boyfriend wants me to transfer, but the budget cuts have me taking what I can get. The biggest problem so far has been major theft. I need to buy a new stapler, pencil sharpener, and other supplies and some padlocks because they pick the school cabinet locks. I am lucky they didn't steal any graphing calculators. There was a box of 30 in teh same cabinet other supplies were stolen from. That would have been horrible.

    One of my students (14 years old) from a different school murdered someone the summer after I taught her. It was cold-blooded murder. Blows my mind.
     

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