January was Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of human beings for the purpose of exploitation for commercial gain. A preliminary report on the scope of the problem in Ohio cited nine out of 10 children who run away from home end up in the child sex trafficking business. The most common age in Ohio for youth to become child sex trafficking victims is 13 years old. To raise statewide awareness, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force have created messaging and visuals available for Ohio districts and schools. Please visit the Ohio Governor's Human Trafficking Task Force webpage for additional information, fact sheets and posters on human trafficking.
It is important that students see adults model healthy relationships and that schools create environments to support students who are victims of violence and exploitation. Below are three steps schools can take to improve awareness, response and educate its community about addressing Human Trafficking.
First, how can school staff identify a victim of Human Trafficking?
While not all of the below behaviors indicate that a child is a victim of human trafficking, school staff should recognize these behaviors as red flags and cause for concern. Children who are:
- not living with their parents are vulnerable
- experiencing teen dating violence
- experiencing domestic abuse
- experiencing drug and alcohol abuse
Second, what school staff should do if they suspect a child is a victim?
- Evaluate the child’s circumstances against the red flags behaviors.
- Refer to appropriate school personnel and community contacts (i.e. local police department, counseling services).
Third, how do school staff report suspected human trafficking?
- Contact your local police department.
- The National Resource Center hotline toll-free number at (888) 373-7888 or visit the National Resource Center website at https://polarisproject.org/get-assistance/national-human-trafficking-hotline.
REMINDER: House Bill 276 requires school nurses, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, and administrators in elementary, middle, and high school schools to complete the Safety and Violence Prevention Curriculum to fulfill the in-service training requirement every five years. New employees must complete the training within two years of commencing employment, and every five years thereafter. It is likely that many of your school’s staff are due for their five year retraining in the 2018-2019 school year. In preparation for this five year retraining date, the Ohio Department of Education is revising and updating the Safety and Violence Prevention Training; the updated model curriculum will be available June 2017. This training does satisfy requirements for professional development.
Safe Fleet Launches 2017 Anti-Bullying Grant Program. Safe Fleet and its brands are kicking off the company’s United Against Bullying (UAB) 2017 Grant Program.
The grant application process closes on March 31. Grants are available to school districts and organizations working with students in the U.S. and Canada.
A total of $50,000 will be awarded to the most inspiring and detailed proposals for a new anti-bullying or kindness initiative, to enhance or expand an existing program, or to purchase equipment to help address bullying and ensure the safety of students on the school bus. Please visit the Safe Fleet Launches 2017 Anti-Bullying Grant Program for more information.
In past years, Ohio schools have seen an increase in bomb threats throughout the spring season; is your staff ready to assess and respond to a threat? The Department of Homeland Security has released updated guidance you and your staff can use to better assess and manage threats to your school.
The Center for P-20 Safety and Security will send out additional information on bomb threat preparedness in March to help schools better respond to these threats.
When the Tornado Sirens Sound, Will You Know What to Do? – Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 19-25
In a coordinated effort with the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA), Governor John R. Kasich is proclaiming March 19-25 as Severe Weather Awareness Week and encourages all Ohioans to learn what to do to protect themselves from spring and summer weather hazards and home emergencies.
Schools are encouraged to exercise their school emergency management plans and drill during the Annual Statewide Tornado Drill, scheduled for Wednesday, March 22nd at 9:50 a.m. Schools that participate in the statewide drill in March may be able to apply that date as their required April tornado drill. Check with your local fire official. Also, if your school documents the tornado drill to the reporting standards of the emergency management test, the drill can count as your functional emergency management test for 2017.
What can schools do during Severe Weather Awareness Week?
- Review your school safety plan to prepare for high-risk days such as severe thunderstorms and tornado watches and warnings.
- Ensure students and faculty know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is imminent or occurring, seek shelter immediately.
- Know where your designated tornado shelters are located. The most interior areas on the ground floor, away from windows and glass are best for use as protective areas – such as hallways. Large, open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums and auditoriums should never be used as protective areas. Modular and portable classrooms are also considered unsafe during tornadoes and thunderstorms.
- Have class discussions on severe weather safety and emergency preparedness. Visit OCSWA’s www.weathersafety.ohio.gov or www.ready.ohio.gov to learn what actions Ohioans can take before, during and after inclement weather and other emergencies that typically impact the state.
- Encourage students in 1st – 6th grade to participate in the Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest! Click here for poster contest rules.
Training on and testing emergency procedures is critical to keeping staff and students aware of what to do when an emergency occurs at your school. Training and testing helps to validate and strengthen your existing emergency plans, while increasing confidence in staff as they respond to similar emergencies. Rehearsing your plans can help alleviate community fears during an emergency.
The Ohio Department of Education, along with our partners at Ohio Emergency Management Agency, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and Ohio Homeland Security are currently working to revise requirements for the mandated Emergency Management Test. New resources for schools will be distributed later this spring, including templates on how to conduct an Emergency Management Test and options on how to satisfy multiple requirements with one exercise. The rollout information will be featured prominently on our website, Ed Connect, and through other sources as soon as it is available.
If you would like assistance in conducting your own emergency management test, please contact the Center for P-20 Safety and Security at 614-644-2641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The school emergency plan law has established that schools must annually certify to the Ohio Department of Education that their emergency plan documents are current and accurate. School and district administrators with compliant school emergency plans from 2016 and earlier have until July 1 of each year to complete this annual review and document the review date in SAFE.
Review your documents and ensure they represent your current facility and staff between January 1 and July 1. Once you have done this, log into the school safety plan application in SAFE and enter the date you completed your review; directions can be found here. If you have revisions to your plans, please make sure to update the documents in SAFE by using the ‘edit’ button to upload the revised plans. If you have any questions or need assistance, contact the Center for P-20 Safety and Security helpline at 614-644-2641.
All schools are required to resubmit their school emergency management plans to ODE on a three year cycle, which is referred to as the “Resubmit Date”. Your school’s “Resubmit Date” can now be found on the main screen in the School Safety Plan application in SAFE. The “Resubmit Date” has been calculated from your most recent compliant evaluation.
By this date, but not earlier than 3 months prior, each school will need to upload new versions of the four components of the school emergency management plan. The plan will be evaluated and a new date of compliance will be issued. Reminder messages will be sent to you to ensure you stay on track to meet the resubmission date.