“Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide”
This 62-page booklet, a joint effort of the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, was released April 28. The guide recommends that communities develop a comprehensive team approach to violence prevention in their schools. This team approach should involve educators, mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, parents, and students, the guide says.
An underlying theme of the publication is the importance of every child being known well by at least one adult. The guide also notes that an important balance must be found between responding to a child’s early warning signs and being harmful by labeling or overreacting.
“We cannot rely on mechanical profiling of students,” Riley told a school counselors meeting in Chicago. “We simply cannot put student behaviors into a formula to come up with the appropriate response. We need human involvementyour professional judgmentin every step of the process.”
The guide offers a blueprint for the creation of a schoolwide foundation that fosters discipline, academic success, and emotional wellness in students; early intervention with the 10 to 15 percent of students at risk for severe academic or behavioral problems; and immediate intervention for students who continue to have problems.
The guide was developed with help from the National Association of School Psychologists. Some 26 professional organizations, including the American Psycho-logical Association, have endorsed it.
School safety seminar
This summer, Michigan’s Oakland University will host a two-week school safety seminar called Crisis Intervention and School Safety. The seminar, scheduled for July 10-13 and July 17-20, will offer a two-pronged approach, with the first week to be spent on prevention and the second week to focus on what to do if an incident occurs.
“The one common element that helps alleviate the entire situation is communication between parents, students, and the school,” said Stephanie Daly, who will teach the course with Barbara Patrick. “Once you have opened up that avenue, you can defuse a lot of potentially dangerous situations.”
The seminar will teach the importance of identifying students who have the potential for violence. Once identified, schools work with the parents to find appropriate help for the child. Counseling usually is recommended, but Daly said it’s up to the parents to make sure the child gets that help.
In the second week, the focus will change to dealing with an incident after it has occurred. Participants will design safety plans for their individual buildings.
Though Daly and Patrick are the instructors for the seminar, they’ll rely on the experience of local and national experts in crisis intervention and school safety. The registration deadline is June 22 and the cost is $395.