Defining Empathy For School Safety & Security

by | Mar 20, 2019

How Can We Be More Empathetic?

Google dictionary defines empathy as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” While this may sound obvious to some, there are an overwhelming number of people who actually don’t know what empathy is. Despite being talked about frequently the concept of empathy can be difficult to grasp or hard to know how to practice. It is something people tend to do intrinsically to some extent with those close to them, like with family. Therefore, it is important to introduce this in other environments.

Design Thinking Can Help

David M. Kelley, the founder of IDEO consultancy, conceived of “Design thinking” as a discipline. The basic premise of this process is to begin with empathy for the end user. For us, the primary individuals we set out to protect are students & educators. By learning about what makes people actually feel safe and cared for, we have been able to develop a technology that can protect people effectively. More educational programs for children are introducing the methodology of design thinking now. 

“Wicked problems,” are a concept within the context of design thinking. Wicked problems in a design thinking context refer to those especially “tricky” problems that can also be hard to define. They do not necessarily refer to “wicked” meaning “evil,” though in the case of school shootings that definition surely applies as well. While creating a sense of safety & security in schools seems obvious, the actual root cause of the problem often gets missed.

Extreme Measures Can Create More Anxiety

Beginning with empathic thinking gave us insight into the common problems caused by certain proposed solutions. Having armed personnel on school premises may be a preventative measure. However, this still misses the empathic insight. Metal detectors are effective at determining whether or not a person has a gun in their possession. However, both of these options actually induce more anxiety in students & educators. Think for yourself. Would you want to enter a building every day with these kinds of security measures?

Would they make you feel more safe or uneasy?

Even adding more cameras can give people an undo sense of panic. By providing a solution to strengthen the power of already existing camera technology, we are able to increase security, add a layer of safety, and avoid increasing the level of anxiety people feel in a location that should be filled with joy & wonder.

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