A top priority: School Safety

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A top priority: School Safety

Anna Winslow, Editor-in-Chief

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WSVN Channel 7 news recently aired a broadcast about fights at South Plantation. The broadcast, entitled Fight Fear, depicted South as a place where students and faculty alike do not feel safe. Many parents, students, and faculty members felt the broadcast did not accurately reflect the status of school safety at South, prompting the Sword & Shield to investigate the issue further.
“I know students, teachers and volunteers who are in and around the school all the time,” said an active volunteer and parent in response to the broadcast. “Never have any of us hesitated about the safety of our kids any more than we would be in any other South Florida high school.”
The broadcast described fights at South as “all out brawls” that occur daily, before, during and after school. Video footage of students hitting each other in the halls was shown, in addition to interviews with parents who claimed fights consisted of dozens of students.
However, the numbers say otherwise. In a random survey conducted by the Sword & Shield, 76% of respondents claimed most fights included one to five people. And although the majority of respondents had seen fights at school, 88% had not been involved in one. Nonetheless, South’s administrative staff has taken steps to prevent fights from breaking out.
“We have communicated South’s positive behavior plan where people treat each other with respect and kindness,” said Assistant Principal Ron Reed. “People should approach an adult if they have a conflict with someone that may rise to the level of fighting.”
Addressing the effects of social media is also a priority of the positive behavior plan, as conflicts can be exaggerated on the internet.
“We also educate students on how social media escalates conflicts at school and encourage students to keep things more positive on social media,” Reed said. “If it’s not kind, if it’s not nice, if it’s not helpful, you don’t post it.”
In addition to updating school safety policy, South has three security specialists and one school resource officer (SRO) who work to break up any fights that may break out.
“We hired an extra detail to come to school a few times,” said SRO, Officer Hamilton. “I personally have had police officers staged outside school for dismissal in case anything goes on.”
When fights do break out, security has a procedure to ensure those involved are disciplined accordingly. If video footage is available, it is used to help determine if there is an aggressor or if those involved were mutual combatants.
“We are constantly looking to improve our procedures and methods of handling supervision in the hallways,” Reed said. “We want everyone to be a part of a community where they help us identify things and bring things to our attention so they can be handled in a professional manner.
The guidance department has also met with several freshmen classes to communicate safety and behavioral standards on campus. Guidance counselors also encouraged students to seek help from an adult if they feel they have a conflict with another student.
“Students need to find an adult they trust if they have a problem,” said Guidance Director, Amanda Nault. “As guidance cousnelors we are trained to peer mediate and find solutions.”
Although the WSVN broadcast received backlash, it started a conversation about the status of safety at South. Security, faculty, and administration will continue to take every measure possible to make South as safe as possible.
Update: Channel 7 aired another broadcast on South Plantation Tuesday night. The broadcast included an interview with a teacher who wished to remain anonymous. The teacher claimed fights had increased over the years, and little was being done to remedy the problem. WSVN reached out to the district, who said they were working with the Plantation Police Department and South’s administrative staff to further address the concerns of parents, students, and faculty.