Safe School Environments

Adopted March 1991 – Revised May 2021 – Health & Community Concerns Commission

A school’s biggest challenge is becoming a physically, socially, emotionally, and academically safe place for students.   California State PTA believes that every child is entitled to a safe and peaceful school environment that is orderly and empowering.

According to Committee for Children (, social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success.  People with strong social-emotional skills are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially.  From effective problem-solving to self-discipline, from impulse control to emotion management and more, SEL provides a foundation for positive, long-term effects on kids, adults, and communities.

Trauma-Sensitive Schools that understand the educational impacts of trauma can become safe, supportive environments where students make the positive connections with adults and peers they might otherwise push away, calm their emotions so they can focus and behave appropriately, and feel confident enough to advance their learning.  The core attributes of a trauma sensitive school include the following:

  • A shared understanding among all staff
  • The school supports all children to feel safe physically, socially, emotionally, and academically
  • The school addresses students’ needs in holistic ways
  • The school explicitly connects students to the school community and provides multiple opportunities to practice newly developing skills.
  • The school embraces teamwork and staff share responsibility for all students.
  • Leadership and staff anticipate and adapt to the ever-changing needs of students.
  • A crisis response plan in place to deal with unforeseen emergencies.

California State PTA believes that the qualities that play a major role in the creation of a safe school environment are:

  • Education takes place in a positive physical setting
  • Students, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel bring their strengths and experiences to the school campus
  • Students feel respected and know that the learning community cares about their individual needs and expects them to succeed;
  • Parents and community members are welcomed and encouraged to share ideas, talents and resources for improving the school;
  • High standards exist and are communicated on a regular basis;
  • Students and staff know that learning and achievement are encouraged and highly valued and that positive social behaviors are expected;
  • There is continued involvement and cooperation of parents, students, teachers, security staff, classified staff and law enforcement representatives in designing and revising of the school’s discipline, disaster, safe school and crisis plans;
  • Prevention is stressed, and the staff and students are prepared for emergencies and other unforeseen situations; Programs are in place to prevent negative behaviors such as gang activity, drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse, bullying and other socially abusive behavior;
  • There are regular security checks;
  • There are ongoing training opportunities that allow students and staff to increase their ability to deal with conflict, anger and other threats to safety.


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