This article deals with risk controversies in emerging policy networks regarding school safety in the Netherlands. It offers a grounded account of the interpretations of school risks and safety measures by the various stakeholders of the policy network, in particular, schools, local government and the police. Theoretically, policy networks are conceived as mediating between the structural conditions of the risk-society and the culture of fear on the one hand and the institution of safety standards on the organizational level of schools on the other hand. It is argued that in the low-risk context of schools, it is particularly important to take into account the soft, cultural side of safety next to the hard, material side of safety. This distinction also accounts for the ambiguities and controversies over school risks. A further conclusion is that in this network a lack of local leadership seems to hinder the development of firm safety measures. Overall, this article highlights the paradox between a concern for safety and a concern for a schools reputation. © 2012 Taylor & Francis.