Student Safety

Antwan Jefferson, PhD

As I reflect on the topic of school safety, I am reminded of the Maasai proverb, “And how are the children?” Reminded that the health of our society will be most evident in the lives of our children. And, because public education may be our society’s last truly public institution, there’s a public responsibility underlying the topic of safety in our public schools.

I hope that this public responsibility is under exploration in each page, in every written word, and in every issue.

In my own experience as a parent to school aged children, one of whom experienced an active shooter incident on campus on the last day of school in May, my understanding of children’s safety in schools has broadened beyond guns on campus. It now includes mental health resources, caring adults who guard against targeting and isolation, and a community that expects public education to honor its public commitment.

School safety is such a broad topic, I hope we’ve at least scratched the surface. I invite you to learn from this issue just as we’ve learned while creating it. You’ll encounter voices of families, educators, and former students; many of whom have also learned that we must think broadly about school safety if we want truly safer institutions.

You’ll also encounter the unique contributions of student artists whose perspectives on our broader society are represented in original art developed with RedLine Contemporary Art Center (, a community-facing arts venue that centers the community and our children in the production of art for public use. Many thanks to Shaunie, Tya, Moe, and Robin.

Together, I hope that the combination of insights from adults and youth throughout the region, and children’s art representing their perspectives on our society help us to understand the answer to the question: “And how are the children?”

Welcome to our school safety issue. We hope that you find the writing here informative and the art inspiring.