Accountability Breeds Respect

Leadership, clear communications, training and consistency help to correct inappropriate behavior

Several discussions in training sessions and school safety assessment projects I’ve had recently have centered around schools where a situation has developed over time that creates a negative school climate. These discussions have involved schools where students and staff frequently treat each other with disrespect ranging from mild to pretty severe. 

Of course, not all staff and students are engaged in these behaviors, but there are situations where disrespectful behavior is fairly common and occurs on a daily basis with a significant percentage of people. 

It seems that in many of these instances, somewhere back in time students may not have been held accountable for their disrespectful behavior, and some frustrated staff have reacted by dishing out some of their own disrespectful behavior. Over time, a negative environment develops that can be very difficult to correct.  

Fortunately, these situations are not hopeless.  A dramatic improvement can be attained if there is proper leadership, evaluation, adjustment and an overhaul of how we do business. This must be supported by clear communications, training and consistent application of policy to hold both students and staff accountable for their behavior.

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About the Author

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Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at [email protected]. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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