White Papers

Design for Safe & Healthy Children

Public media has been flooded with stories of gun violence in schools. As important and tragic as these events are, they sometimes overshadow equally concerning incidents such as bullying, substance abuse, and assault that occur more frequently in schools. Collectively, these events challenge schools and designers to find appropriate responses. Our team has studied factors contributing to school safety, security, and occupant well-being and the impact of various programs, policies, and design features. Our hypothesis in this paper was that students learn better and are more successful when they feel safe and connected. Our research shows that the feeling of safety is intrinsically connected to a sense of belonging, mental health, and well-being. We conclude with a balanced approach to address the safety, mental health, and wellness of students and adults in schools.