Posted: June 7th, 2021
Crises Management in Public Schools Review of Crisis in Public Schools throughout the United States Throughout the United States students in public schools have experienced many crises. Students have witnessed or experienced many different types of crisis which can include: violence, death, accidents, family issues, natural disasters and terrorism. Statistics from the National Center for Educational Statistics (2008) show that in the 2003-04 school year there were 19 homicides and 3 suicides that occurred at school.
Outside of school in the 2003-04 school year there were 1,437 homicides and 1,285 suicides of youth ages 5 to 18. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia (2008) in the year 2007, there were 2,022 children ages 0-15 and 5,338 teens ages 16-20 who died in fatal car accident. Other crises include disasters. Since 2003 there have been 4 hurricanes (hurricanes Isabel, Ivan, Katrina, and Ophelia) in the United States. Hurricane Katrina displaced over 372,000 school-aged children (Dickenson, 2008). In the September 11 attack, there were 3,051 children who lost a parent (New York Media, 2008).
Earthquakes, thunderstorms, and tornadoes also have caused major fatalities and displacements. Public Schools in the United States “need to be ready to handle crisis, large and small, to keep children and staff out of harm’s way”. There must be a “Crisis Intervention or Management Plan”, in case any of these crises occur in the school. Unfortunately, not all do. School Psychologists play a significant role of the crisis management team and should review the plan and know their part in crisis management for schools during and after the crises occurs.
Crisis Management, as defined by The Model School Crisis Management Plan (1999), is “that part of a school division’s approach to school safety which focuses more narrowly on a time-limited, problem-focused intervention to identify, confront and resolve the crisis, restore equilibrium, and support appropriate adaptive responses”. This paper will address the following: recent research on what school crisis management plans should include, definition and signs of posttraumatic stress disorder, and resources to guide school psychologists in playing an important role in risis management. Resent research on crisis management plans The Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA (2008) created a 161 page crisis prevention and response plan for schools to use as a resource. In it they define the major facets of crisis response as being: 1. communication, 2. direction and coordination, and 3. health and safety. These major facets should be implemented during the emergency, immediate aftermath, days/weeks following, and in prevention.
The Psychological First Aid approach which was developed by the National Center for PTSD to help children, adolescents, adults, and families in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism should also be included in the crisis management plan. It is “designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events and to foster short-and long-term adaptive functioning and coping” (NCTSN, 2006). The Psychological First Aid for school aged children should be implemented immediately after the trauma and includes three basic objectives: managing the situation, mobilizing support, and following up.
Definition and signs of posttraumatic stress disorder Posttraumatic Stress Disorder “is an anxiety disorder that can occur after you have been through a traumatic event… during this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening” (NCPTSD, 2008). If these feelings persist over a long time and interfere with a person’s daily life, they are experiencing PTSD. Elementary school-aged children show different signs of PTSD than adults.
Instead of experiencing flashbacks or amnesia, children experience “time skew” (mis-sequencing trauma related events) and “omen formation” (belief that there were warning signs that predicted the trauma) and may reenact the trauma in play, drawings, or verbalization (Hamblen, 1998). Adolescents resemble the signs of adults, but may also reenact the trauma in some part of their daily life. Resources for school psychologists in crisis management The National Association of School Psychologists (2000) has a list of website resources that guide school psychologists on various school safety and crisis information.
Some resources include: school safety/violence prevention, suicide prevention/intervention, trauma, natural disasters, and war/terrorism materials. One approach the NASP recommends for school psychologists in identifying coping strategies is the BASIC Ph Coping Model by Dr. Mooli Lahad. The model “suggests that people possess six potential characteristics or dimensions that are at the core of an individual’s coping style” (Zenere, 2004). The six coping styles are Belief, Affect, Social, Imagination, Cognitive, and Physiological.
There are many organizations and associations listed on the Ed. gov “Emergency Planning” website. It is important for school psychologists to recognize their important role in the crisis management team. They should use the resources available to them to aid in the school’s process of developing the crisis management plan. School psychologists should also stay up-to-date on current research regarding outcomes of tragedy in children. Together as a team, they have the ability to help children, and hopefully reduce PTSD in children after a trauma. References
Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA. (2008). Responding to a Crisis at a School. Los Angeles, CA: Author. Retrieved December 2, 2008, from http://smhp. psych. ucla. edu/ Dickenson, C. (2008, November). Children Displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Communique, 37(3), 32. Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia (2008). National Statistics. Retrieved December 2, 2008, from http://www-fars. nhtsa. dot. gov/Main/index. aspx Hamblen, J. (1998). PTSD in Children and Adolescents. National Center for PTSD. Retrieved December 2, 2008, from http://www. ncptsd. va. ov/ncmain/ncdocs/fact_shts/fs_children. html National Association of School Psychologists (2000). Information for Educators. Retrieved December 3, 2008, from http://www. nasponline. org/educators/index. aspx National Center for Education Statistics (2008). Indicators of School Crime and Safety:2007. Retrieved December 2, 2008, from http://nces. ed. gov/programs/crimeindicators/crimeindicators2007/ NCTSN: National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2006). Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide (2nd Ed). Retrieved December 3, 2008, from http://www. ncptsd. va. ov/ncmain/ncdocs/manuals/smallerPFA_2ndEditionwithappendices. pdf U. S. Department of Education (2008). Emergency Planning. Retrieved December 2, 2008, from http://www. ed. gov/admins/lead/safety/emergencyplan/index. html Virginia General Assembly (1999). The Model School Crisis Management Plan, 2. Retrieved December 2, 2008, from http://pen6. pen. k12. va. us/VDOE/Instruction/model. html Zenere, F. (2004). How Children with Trauma and Ongoing Threat: The BASIC Ph Model. National Association of School Psychologists. Retrieved December 2, 2008, from http://www. nasponline. org/
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